On a sunshine filled day RSA 2nd faced Starthearn in their first McDowell Cup Final.

The first 10 mins saw a nervous start from both teams. RSA found themselves defending a several of waves of attack from Strathearn with some of their their own attacks up the right hand side starting from Kerri Hewitt at right back. The match proceeded to be end to end with keeper Sarah Matthews being forced into making two subsequent saves only to see her team attack straight after. Twelve minutes in RSA successfully defended a short corner and a counterattack grew. With more end to end play it was only a matter of time before one team would break the stale mate. RSA were penalized harshly and they had to defend another short corner but the short corner defence were quick out and blocked the shot on goal expertly. This gave the RSA side confidence and attacked once again with Joanna Berry’s excellent shot being saved by the Belfast keeper. It wasn’t until Strathearn attacked down the middle of the pitch, and despite a defensive scramble near the goal mouth Strathearn scored to change the score to 1 nil. Now starthearn had found their confidence and started the 2nd half strongly and converted their attack into another goal to see RSA now go down 2 down. However RSA were not going to give up on this and defenders Henrietta Graham and Victoria Berry pushed the attack from the back of the team helping RSA see more attacking chances appear. Jourdan Baird was able to nick the ball of a defender giving it to Judith Hooks who found Baird once again and after a pass to left post to Hannah McKeeman , as she has done throughout the season, slotted the ball past the goal keeper and RSA found themselves in the middle of a comeback.

Soon after this McKeeman was unlucky to grab the equalizer, however RSA knew they had their opposition on the back foot and started to really turn up the pressure on the Strathearn defense with Cathy Heatley not allowing them one second on the ball. After even more pressure RSA crossed the ball from the right hand side to find McKeeman again, and once again she put it into the goal. All level now with only a few minutes to go. However the game continued to high intensity with Strathearn refinding their attacking game. This is high paced game started taking its toile with many heavy legs RSA defended hard again and made it into extra time. At full time RSA were able to gather themselves and prepare for 5 mins each way extra time with silver goal. The first period of extra time saw the same quality of hockey from both sides as there had been throughout the whole match, however both sides failed to make anything of their attacking chances. After a straight switch round the match entered the last 5 minutes of playing time, before the cruel penalty flicks. RSA continued to dig deep and refuse to let this match slip out of their clasp. However something had to give and with 2 minutes to go Strathearn attacked and despite a save from Matthews it failed to be cleared and Strathearn grabbed the winning goal. RSA still would not give up and even managed to attack once again however the clock ran out and RSA 2nd XI were left as the Runners Up.

Despite what seemed a cruel end to their final and to their season, RSA showed that even in defeat they could hold their heads up high and be proud of a performace that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Coach Gemma Todd was beaming with pride “ I know that we did not bring the cup home today however RSA 2nd XI gave a performance that showcased school hockey at its best. I am just so so proud of what these girls have achieved in getting here and giving such a performance that shows why they are a top 2nd XI side in Ulster School Hockey. RSA 2nd XI would also like to thank all the hard work from Mr McCready Miss Adams, Miss Lee and all the support from the school and staff at Royal School Armagh.”

RSA 1st XI vs BRA 1ST XI

RSA 1st XI went into the final with key player Pippa Best, Irish U18 International, injured, however this did not effect the determination to bring home the shield.

1st HALF RSA started strong and the midfield attacked well with Alana Doyle controlling most of the play. This was converted into a goal with RSA being rewarded a short corner and Claire Hanna’s first strike hit the back board. RSA continued to dominate the play through hard work from Ellen Donaldson, Clara Lennon and Hannah Irwin. However the attacks were defended well by BRA

2nd started much the same, however BRA started to play their way into the game and had there own period of attacking waves causing RSA to defend hard and clear the ball on numerous occasions. In the last 10 mins BRA’s hunger for an equaliser increased and their efforts were rewarded by a goal in the last 2 mins.

Extra time was to be 2 periods of 5mins of silver goal. Both sides were desperate for the winning goal however time rolled into the 2nd period. RSA Started building their attack from the back and Joanna Dodds received the ball on the right, and then crossed it across the circle to find Kathryn Glass diving at the back post to take the deflection into the back of the net. RSA saw the game out and finally got their hands on the well deserved silver ware!!!!

Coach Jareth McCready was delighted to see his side lift the shield after an excellent season both in cup fixtures and friendlies.

RSA 1st XI would like to thank the spectators from the school and the staff for their support throughout the whole season