This Wednesday, Banbridge Academy’s First XI girls’ quest to land the holy grail of Ulster Schoolgirls’ hockey continues with the semi-finals of the Ulster Senior Schools’ Cup.
Bann will be taking on the might of the current holders Sullivan Upper from Holywood in the semis at Lisnagarvey.
Their game will be the second game in a semi-final double header with Methody taking on Armagh Royal in the opening match.
The locals will be hoping to go one stage further than last year when they narrowly lost in their first ever appearance in the final to Sullivan.
First up they have to take on the holders in what will be a tight game against two competitive squads both laden with a mixture of quality and experience and a sprinkling of new recruits.
Both squads have lost key players from last year but Bann can still call upon the services of the mercurial Katie McKee and vice-captain Orla Thompson while Sullivan still have the services of their captain Katherine Hill.
Throw in a couple of other experienced campaigners on each side along with new fresh faces and you have the makings of a classic semi-final on the cards.
Sullivan will be hoping to produce a repeat of last year’s exciting final when their ability to take their chances was the difference between the two sides as they secured a 2-1 victory over a spirited Academy side.
Bann will be hoping that history does not repeat itself as they seek to add the coveted Senior Cup to their success in the early season opening tournament.
Bann have accounted for Dalriada, Kilkeel High School, Wallace, and Lurgan College so far in their cup run that started back in November.
Bann coach Neil Madeley has only one injury concern with Lauren McGaw struggling to shake off an ankle injury.
The locals warmed up for their semi with a morale boasting victory at the weekend against Regent House with Gemma Hasson weighing in with a hat-trick.
The Academy squad will train at Garvey in the build-up to the game and will be using the Academy boys’ superb victory in the All Ireland Schools as their motivation to book their place in the decider scheduled for Garvey in early March.
Sullivan will be a tough nut to crack and all the evidence points to a close game that could go all the way to the dreaded penalty shoot-out given the comparative qualities of both squads.
Wednesday’s game hits-off at 2.30pm and all support would be welcomed.