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Bann's stuttering start in all­Ireland series



Diving goal: Nadia Benallal

Diving goal: Nadia Benallal

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Diving goal: Nadia Benallal

Banbridge Academy made a slow start in their bid to lift their second all-Ireland schoolgirls' hockey title in three years when they opened their Kate Russell Cup campaign without a win in Dublin yesterday.

The Belfast Telegraph Senior Cup winners began with a 1-1 draw with holders Kilkenny College and were then held to the same scoreline by Crescent Comprehensive of Limerick.

Banbridge can still lift the title but will probably need to win both their games today against hosts St Andrews and Connacht champions Coláiste Iognaid if they are to do so and hope other results go in their favour.

The Ulster champions trailed early on against Kilkenny but rescued a point when Ellen Reid converted a penalty stroke close to the break after her shot from a set-piece had been stopped by a defender's foot.

Bann captain Nadia Benallal scored a superb opener in the second game against Crescent, who had earlier beaten St Andrews, when she dived to deflect the ball home early on.

But the Munster girls equalised within a couple of minutes of the restart when Maeve McNamara scored a well-taken goal.

Meanwhile, Pegasus have opened up a seven point gap at the top of the EY Irish Hockey League table after a comprehensive 5-0 win over Belfast Harlequins at the Dub.

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Quins were well below par after a battling draw with Loreto at the weekend and Pegasus never looked back after Shirley McCay slammed home the first penalty corner of the game after less than 60 seconds.

It was one-way traffic after that as Quins failed to get a shot on target in the entire 70 minutes and Pegasus added further goals through schoolgirl Charlotte Hart, Lucy McKee, Kate Gourley and McCay again.

In the Ulster Premier League, meanwhile, a late equaliser from Katy Aston clinched Queen's a 2-2 draw at Lurgan, while Leanne Cassell's goal sealed Dungannon a 1-0 victory at Ballymena, who stay bottom.

Kate Russell Cup: St Andrews 0 Crescent 1; Kilkenny 1 Banbridge Acad. 1 (E Reid); St Andrews 3 Coláiste Iognaid 0; Banbridge Acad.1 (N Benallal)

Today: Banbridge Acad. v St Andrew's (10.45am); Banbridge Acad. v Coláiste Iognaid (2.30pm)

IHL: Pegasus 5 (S McCay 2, L McKee, K Gourley, C Hart) Belfast Harlequins 0

Ulster Premier: Ballymena 0 Dungannon 1 (L Cassells); Lurgan 2 (J Reid, P Best) Queen's 2 (E McStea, K Aston)

Senior One: Portadown 1 (L Craig) North Down 1 (S Lewis)

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