Kilkenny College and Banbridge Academy made the big statements on day one of the SUBWAY® All-Ireland Schoolgirls Championships, both recording back-to-back wins and clean sheets at Havelock Park to lead the way.
Hosts Banbridge started off with a strong 2-0 win over Galway’s Colaiste Iognaid. Katie McKee got Academy off to a great start with a fine backhand strike from a penalty corner.But they found Jes difficult to break down with Carmel Heery making a series of strong tackles while goalkeeper Anna O’Donoghue put in some top stops. The clinching goal, though, came with seven minutes to go when Lauren McGaw popped home a penalty corner rebound.
Kilkenny College started their campaign with a 1-0 win over Ursuline Convent Thurles, Yasmin Pratt netting in the 16th minute. Sophie Thomas was a driving force as they pushed on in the first half before Thurles had their moments in the second half but could not break through as Ellie McLoughlin made some big saves.
Banbridge completed their first day’s work with a 2-0 victory against Muckross Park, making their tournament bow. The Dubliners had the first major chance, Niamh Shaw’s early corner well saved.
But Bann bounced back and hit the front when Orla Thompson gobbled up a penalty corner rebound in the 14th minute. Charley Brush showed her danger from corners soon after, fizzing a shot wide, before she doubled the lead in the second half with a direct strike five minutes after the break.
Muckross piled on the pressure in the second half but could not reduce the deficit with Alice Winson making some key interventions.
It put Banbridge on top of the table for a couple of hours before Kilkenny overhauled them on goal difference courtesy of a late burst against Colaiste Iognaid.
Emma Atkinson’s sharp piece of stickwork on the right baseline created the first goal in the eighth minute. Pratt’s pace created a pair of great chances but they had to wait until the closing quarter to take the game away from the Galway girls.
Jessie Fryday slipped home the second before Thomas and Iseult Cahill added goals in the closing ten minutes for a 4-0 victory, moving them above Bann on goal difference.
Muckross closed out the day with an impressive win over Ursulines to keep their interests in the title alive. Charlie Browne put them in front with a great touch to a raking pass from the right hand side for 1-0 in the ninth minute.
Lelia O’Byrne then made the game safe with 11 minutes left with an absolute ripper of a goal, slamming home on her backhand after Rachel Cuddy fed her a quick free. It ended 2-0.
Action gets underway on Friday once again at 9.30am with Muckross meeting Colaiste Iognaid before the potentially pivotal game at 11am between Banbridge and Kilkenny.
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SUBWAY® All-Ireland Schoolgirls Championships
Day one results: Banbridge Academy 2 (K McKee, L McGaw) Colaiste Iognaid 0; Ursuline Convent, Thurles 0 Kilkenny College 1 (Y Pratt); Muckross 0 Banbridge Academy 2 (O Thompson, C Brush); Kilkenny College 4 (E Atkinson, J Fryday, S Thomas, I Cahill) Colaiste Iognaid 0; Muckross Park 2 (C Browne, L O’Byrne) Ursuline Convent, Thurles 0
Friday, March 24 schedule (all at Havelock Park, Banbridge): Muckross Park v Colaiste Iognaid, 9.30am; Banbridge Academy v Kilkenny College, 11am; Colaiste Iognaid v Ursuline Convent, Thurles, 12.40pm; Kilkenny College v Muckross Park, 2.10pm; Ursuline Convent, Thurles v Banbridge Academy, 3.50pm
Standings: 1. Kilkenny College 6pts (+5) 2. Banbridge Academy 6pts (+4) 3. Muckross Park 3pts (0) 4. Ursuline Convent, Thurles 0pts (-3) 5. Colaiste Iognaid 0pts (-6)