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Friends' Darcy McGall striving to follow in mum's footsteps with Schools' Cup success

 

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Friends’ School is gunning for Belfast Telegraph Ulster Senior Cup final glory

Friends’ School is gunning for Belfast Telegraph Ulster Senior Cup final glory

Freddie Parkinson

Lining up: Belfast Royal Academy is gunning for Belfast Telegraph Ulster Senior Cup final glory

Lining up: Belfast Royal Academy is gunning for Belfast Telegraph Ulster Senior Cup final glory

Freddie Parkinson

Megan Warke

Megan Warke

Darcy McGall

Darcy McGall

Friends’ School is gunning for Belfast Telegraph Ulster Senior Cup final glory

Darcy McGall doesn't have to look too far for an inspirational role model as Friends' prepare for this afternoon's Belfast Telegraph Ulster Senior Cup final with Belfast Royal Academy at Lisnagarvey (2pm).

Her mother Caroline McGall (formerly Craig) lifted the famous trophy back in 1986 when Friends' defeated Ballymena Academy 2-0 in the final.

Darcy's mum, who played for Ards, went on to bigger and better things as she won 86 senior international caps and represented Ireland at the 1994 World Cup in Dublin.

Darcy would obviously like to emulate her mother and go on to play senior international hockey and, last week, she represented Ireland's Under-16s against England at Lilleshall.

Today, though, her focus will be on the Cup final as the Lisburn outfit bid for a fourth outright triumph in the competition, having last won it in 1999 when they defeated Omagh Academy 2-0.

They beat the Tyrone side by the same score in the semi-final this season.

Darcy (15) says she owes a lot to her mother, who is still involved in hockey as a coach with Lisnagarvey's youth set-up, where her daughter plays her club hockey.

"Mum often recalls memories relating to lessons she learned in her own hockey to everyday situations and her drive and enthusiasm for people to enjoy their sport and push their own limits will always be a reflection of the impact her international days had on her outlook on sport today," said Darcy.

Darcy would dearly love to follow in her mum's footsteps and get her hands on the silverware, and she says her team gained confidence from their semi-final win over Omagh.

"It was a great team performance, and credit to the hard working coaches and my team-mates who constantly strive to challenge each other," she added.

"Omagh put up a great competitive fight which, as a result, pushed the standard of hockey up in a hard-fought match. I feel the team performed as a tight unit and this definitely sweetened the win.

"To lift the Cup like mum did all those years ago would be the perfect end to our season but, having both trained and played with many players on the BRA side, I believe Wednesday will be a very tough and competitive game.

"We have been working hard since the semi on many areas of our game and the squad this year is very close-knit, and I believe it is this which pushes us to train harder and succeed for each other."

BRA, who defeated holders Banbridge Academy in the semi-final after a shoot-out, also have a parent-daughter sporting connection as they bid to lift the Cup for the first time since 1974 and the 12th time outright.

Former Woodvale and Ireland cricket captain Stephen Warke will be a vocal supporter of the north Belfast outfit and his 17-year-old daughter Megan in particular.

Megan knows that nerves can play their part on the big occasion and her dad has been giving her some advice on how to cope with the pressure, not that he exactly leads by example.

"I do get quite nervous before big games but, to be honest, I think he gets even more nervous standing on the sidelines than me," said the BRA defender.

"He certainly doesn't keep calm during games and I can often hear his voice shouting above others, but he's promised me he will be on his best behaviour during the final!

"He usually tells me just to go out and enjoy myself and to do my best, so that's what I will be aiming to do when we face Friends'.

"They are a very good young side with a lot of representative players in their team and, from their performance in the semi-final, they are a talented side and have a lot of speed in their midfield, which we will have to counteract. Like ourselves, they deserve to be in the final.

"Against Banbridge, we stuck to our game plan and tactics well and everyone stepped up and performed on the day.

"Of course, that gives us confidence going into the final, as we have been able to prove to ourselves that we can go out and perform at a high level in these important games.

"To lift the trophy after 46 years would mean everything and we know if we perform on the day we have a good chance, but we also know we will have to be at our best."

Belfast Telegraph