Kilkenny aim to upset Lurgan steamroller

Kate Russell All-Ireland Schools Championship, day one round-up
Kilkenny College put themselves forward as the main threat to Lurgan’s charge for a second Kate Russell All-Ireland schoolgirl’s hockey title in three years following a pair of wins on home turf.

The South East champions – the last side from the region to win the title back in 1994 – were considered outsiders prior to the competition but victory over Crescent College 1-0 and Leinster’s Mount Anville 2-0 sees them tied at the top of the table. They were built on defensive rigidity with goalkeeper Clodagh Cassin in inspired form against Crescent in a wide open tie.

Kilkenny were initially slow to start, showing some early nerves but skipper Anna Boland was superb at the back, as she was in the second game, to help see out a clean sheet while Emma Duncan struck the clincher. Against an accomplished Mount Anville, underage international Amanda Haslam was the heroine when she scored once in each half.

Both times, she reacted quickest amid goalmouth scrambles to nudge the ball home. The Dubliners had plenty of chances to get back into the game with Ailbhe Marsh flying down the left flank and Patricia McGowan’s darting runs wreaking havoc. But none were converted as Cassin again stood tall to see Kilkenny flying high in the group.

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In the process, it ended Mount Anville’s hopes of claiming back the title they won in 1999 as this loss followed a 4-1 setback against Lurgan in the morning. The northern side feature an incredible five players from the 2011 vintage hoping for a second title including Serena and Bethany Barr.

Recently named Irish U-18 captain Hannah Grieve is also back and she top scored with three goals on the day in their two comprehensive wins.

She struck once as they blew away Mount Anville and followed up with a double in the dismissal of Colaiste Iognaid. In that tie, Lurgan were 4-0 inside 20 minutes before the Galway school tightened up with Jes goalkeeper Natasha Cooke in inspired form.

The upshot is it looks a straight battle between Kilkenny and Lurgan for overall honours in the final game of the competition at 3pm on Friday. Crescent remain in with an outside chance of the title but need wins over both Lurgan and Mount Anville and hope for a favour elsewhere.

Kate Russell All-Ireland Schoolgirl Championships: Kilkenny College 1 (E Duncan) Crescent College 0; Lurgan 4 (S Barr, K Edgar, H Grieve, B Barr) Mount Anville 1 (S Twomey); Colaiste Iognaid 1 (H Gormley) Crescent College 2 (C Moloney, S Woods); Kilkenny College 2 (A Haslam 2) Mount Anville 0; Lurgan 5 (H Grieve 2, S Bann, C McCann, E Mullen) Colaiste Iognaid 0

Standings: 1. Lurgan 6pts (+8) 2. Kilkenny College 6pts (+3) 3. Crescent College 3pts (0) 4. Mount Anville 0pts (-5) 5. Colaiste Iognaid 0pts (-6)

Friday’s fixtures (all in Kilkenny College): Colaiste Iognaid vs Mount Anville, 9am; Crescent Comprehensive vs Lurgan College, 10.30am; Kilkenny College vs Colaiste Iognaid, 12pm; Crescent vs Mount Anville, 1.30pm; Lurgan vs Kilkenny, 3pm

School Girls Premier Section A