Banbridge Academy landed the SUBWAY® All-Ireland Kate Russell Schoolgirls Championships at the first attempt this afternoon having only won their maiden Ulster title earlier in the spring.
They claimed the title in front of their home fans with a devastating 6-2 performance against Ursuline Convent, Thurles in the final game of the tournament.
Prior to that final tie, the competition had been poised on a knife-edge as Academy and Kilkenny College went toe-to-toe for much of the two days.
The two schools were level after day one on six points with Kilkenny ahead by a single strike on goal difference. It remained that way after the two sides drew 1-1 in the second game of the day.
Kilkenny took the lead with a superb Jessie Fryday strike in the first half, squeezing home at the right post. But Banbridge fought back as time went on and got back on terms three minutes into the second half when Orla Thompson turned home Charley Brush’s corner sweep.
Both sides had chances to win it but defences held firm, meaning the title would go down to the wire.
Kilkenny were first to stake their claim, facing a Muckross Park side who still had an outside chance of success. It was a real battle with Yasmin Pratt netting a sublime solo goal. The Dubliners fought back to level at 1-1, however, with Niamh Shaw shooting home from a corner.
The result meant that Muckross ended third with Kilkenny needing Ursuline Thurles to do them a favour against Banbridge in the last game of the tournament.
Such a result, however, was never likely to happen as Katie McKee scored within the first 15 seconds with an amazing piece of skill, taking the ball from the tip off, racing to the circle and unleashing a reverse-stick finish for 1-0.
Orla Thompson added a hat trick before the first half was out with a lone Caoimhe Perdue reply. That made it 5-1 at the break and Banbridge scarcely looked back.
Sarah Murphy pulled another one back for Thurles early in the second before Nadia Benallal restored the four-goal gap nine minutes into the second half and that was enough to see Bann primed for glory.
Earlier in the day, Muckross beat Colaiste Iognaid 1-0 thanks to Rachel Cuddy’s fine finish from mid-circle, adding to an opening day win over Ursulines to help their run to third place.
Ursulines finished fourth, their highlight a 2-1 win against Colaiste Iognaid on Friday afternoon.
Thursday 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: Muckross Park 1 (R Cuddy) Colaiste Iognaid 0; Banbridge Academy 1 (O Thompson) Kilkenny College 1 (J Fryday); Colaiste Iognaid 1 (A McGovern) Ursuline Convent, Thurles 2 (C Perdue, R Hassett); Kilkenny College 1 (Y Pratt) Muckross Park 1 (N Shaw); Ursuline Convent, Thurles 2 (C Perdue, S Murphy) Banbridge Academy 6 (O Thompson 3, K McKee, L McGaw, N Benallal)
Standings: 1. Banbridge Academy 10pts (+8) 2. Kilkenny College 8pts (+5) 3. Muckross Park 7pts (+1) 4. Ursuline Convent, Thurles 0pts (-7) 5. Colaiste Iognaid 0pts (-7)