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Banbridge Academy pay the penalty as Sullivan Upper progress in Senior Schools' Cup final

By Graham Hamilton

Katharine Hill broke the hearts of Banbridge Academy for the second successive year as holders Sullivan Upper booked their place in next month's Belfast Telegraph Senior Schools' Cup final.

The skipper scored the winner in last year's decider against Banbridge and yesterday she repeated the dose, this time scoring twice against the same opposition in the semi-final staged at Lisnagarvey.

Now the Holywood girls turn their attention to Methodist College for the March 2 final after the Belfast side squeezed out Royal School Armagh with the only goal in the other semi.

The double-header at Garvey attracted a record four-figure crowd for the semis, with the 'full' signs up in the car parks and the road outside also lined with cars.

Read more: Belfast Telegraph Senior Schools Cup: Holly Bennison keeps a cool head to end Methody's final famine

And the fans were treated to two excellent games, with the outcome uncertain right until the end.

Sullivan were faster out of the blocks than the Academy but Bann came storming back in the second half and at one stage were encamped in the Sullivan half for a full 15 minutes.

They did manage to level matters during that period, but it was their failure to convert any of their 10 penalty corners that cost them dearly and they were hit on the break late on and Sullivan won a penalty corner from which they scored the winner.

The Bann girls were left gutted, as they had done enough in the second half to warrant a win.

"I thought we were going to throw it away when Banbridge applied all that pressure in the second half," admitted Sullivan's captain and two-goal hero Katharine Hill. "But we held on and managed to get the late winner.

"In some ways, the penalty corners were the difference, as they didn't score from so many but we managed two from ours."

Katharine had her hand wrapped in ice at the end of the game but insisted she'll be alright to take her place in the final next month.

"It got hurt when defending all those penalty corners," she said. "I tried to block a Katie McKee effort and ended up taking a smack on my hand. No way was I coming off!"

And it was just as well for Sullivan, who won their fourth penalty corner just a few minutes later and Katharine stepped up to convert the winner.

Sullivan had broken the deadlock from their second penalty corner. Katharine's direct strike was blocked but she picked up the rebound to fire it home.

The Academy almost equalised with the lively Sarah Russell almost sweeping in a cross from Nadia Benallal, but in the second half there was no question about the dominant team.

Katie McKee was pulling the strings for the Academy but for all her inventiveness, Sullivan stood firm under the pressure until Russell finally forced home the equaliser.

It seemed certain they would go on and win the game but the penalty corner routine wasn't working and they were finally hit by a sucker punch.

BANBRIDGE ACADEMY: Alice Wilson, Jayne Scott, Alex Taylor, Nadia Benallal, Claire Liggett, Sophie Mount, Emma Gregson, Charley Brush, Gina Woods, Sarah Russell, Holly Hanna, Orla Thompson, Lauren McGaw, Gemma Hassan, Ellen Reid, Katie McKee

SULLIVAN UPPER: Jenny Beattie, Amy Rothwell, Erin Davidson, Hannah Jemphrey, Katherine McKee, Alexandra Adams, Katharine Hill, Alex Gibson, Emma Hill, Laura McGaw, Sarah Storeng, Jemma Gillen, Anna Gregg, Joanna Kirkwood, Grace Jackson, Janet Cunningham, Megan McDonald



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