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Zoe praised as Town rule

Randalstown 2 - Queen's 2

By John Flack

Randalstown and former Ireland striker Katharine McDowell heaped praise on her protégée Zoe Wilson after the 18-year-old inspired her team to a first Denman Ulster Shield triumph for nine years on Boxing Day at Stormont.

Town kept their nerve to win a tense penalty shoot-out 4-2 after twice coming from a goal down to draw 2-2 and force extra-time.

Queen's had been on top early on but after seeing his team fall behind in the ninth minute, Randalstown coach Harry McNeill brought Wilson off the bench after she had been called up to the squad at the 11th hour.

The teenager, who recently helped Syracuse University lift the USA national title, proved to be the catalyst as her vision and accurate passing constantly posed problems for the students.

McDowell said: "Zoe made a big difference when she came on and she is a great leader on the pitch - she was even giving me advice and I'm 11 years older.

"It was a really tough, very close game but the girls dug deep when we were down twice and showed a lot of character.

"It is fantastic to win the Shield again after nine years and this squad is a good blend of youth and experience.

"It's been a long time coming but, hopefully, we can go on and get more trophies now."

McDowell, who scored the winner in the Co Antrim side's last success in 2006, cancelled out Tori Hastings' early penalty corner goal as the teams went in level at the break.

Hastings then made it 2-1 before Wilson finished clinically with 15 minutes left.

Randalstown had chances towards the end of the 70 minutes but prevailed in the shoot-out as McDowell, Erin Getty, Wilson and Alex Ogilby all scored while Queen's had one effort saved and saw another hit the post.

Town captain Shelley Black added: "The girls showed a lot of resilience but our stated motto before the game was 'refuse to lose' and we demonstrated a never say die attitude."

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