Lurgan will meet Queen’s in a repeat of last year’s Denman Ulster Shield final on St Stephen’s Day after comfortably seeing off Mossley and Banbridge respectively in Sunday’s semi finals at Stormont, writes John Flack.
The holders defeated Mossley 4-1 while in the curtain-raiser while Queen’s were too strong for Bann as they reached their third final in a row with a resounding 5-0 success.
Simon Bell’s team never looked back after taking a first minute lead although the students’ coach knows his side will have to improve if they are to avenge last year’s 3-1 defeat by Lurgan in the showpiece.
“We played well in patches but we can do better and we will have to in the final but it’s good to be there once again,” said Bell.
Tori Hastings got Queen’s off to the perfect start when she scored from open play just 35 seconds after the opening whistle.
Emily McStea made it 2-0 shortly before the break leaving Banbridge, who were competing in their first Shield semi-final, with a mountain to climb.
But it was virtually ‘game over’ when Clare Whiteside made it 3-0 at the far post after good work by Erin Getty and McStea tipped in a Hastings penalty corner to make it four.
Irish international Jessica McMaster scored the best of the bunch near the end when she hammered in a trademark reverse-stick shot to complete the scoring.
Lurgan also got off to a great start against Mossley in the second semi as team captain Sarah McClure unleashed a terrific shot which flew into the roof of the net in the opening minutes.
Lauren Wright added a second goal before half-time to make Mossley’s task all the more difficult and it became mission impossible when Charlene Stewart made it 3-0 from a penalty-corner early in the second half.
Mossley pulled one back after the break through an excellent effort from Kathryn Smiley but Stewart wrapped things up when she added number four from another set-piece.
Meanwhile, Ballymoney consolidated their position at the top of the Ulster Premier League as Olivia Mullan scored the winner in a 1-0 victory over Randalstown.
But Dungannon are still very much in contention as Laura White’s double strike earned them a 2-0 win over Ulster Elks while North Down beat Portadown 2-1 in a crucial game at the other end of the table.
In Senior One leaders Priorians drew 0-0 with Balymena and Lisnagarvey took advantage as Rachel Houston scored twice in a 5-1 win at Ballyclare while Omagh defeated Knock 3-1.
Bangor are still riding high at the top of the men’s Premier League following an impressive 5-2 win over south Antrim in Lisburn where Rhys Cunningham hit a hat-trick.
Civil Service came from 3-0 and 4-1 down to level with North Down at 4-4 thanks to Stephen Armstrong’s equaliser only for the Comber side’s Josh Gilmore to net the winner.
Instonians and Kilkeel maintained their unbeaten records, William Robinson and Gavin Lecky netting for Inst in a 2-0 win at Newry while Gareth Russell got two for the Co Down side in their 4-2 comeback victory over Harlequins.
Harry Dow hit a hat-trick for Mossley in their 4-1 win at Raphoe while Portadown beat Antrim 3-1 and Queen’s got off the mark with a 4-0 success over Cliftonville.
Ulster Shield semi-finals: Queens 5 (Tori Hastings, Emily McStea 2, Claire Whiteside, Jessica McMaster) Banbridge 0; Lurgan 4 (Sarah Mclure, Lauren Wright, Charlene Stewart 2) Mossley 1 (Kathryn Smiley)
Ulster Premier League: Ballymoney 1 (O Mullan) Randalstown 0; Dungannon 2 (L White 2) Ulster Elks 0; Portadown 1 (L Cassels) North Down 2 (K Sinclair, R Lucas)
Senior One: Ballyclare 1 (K Dixon) Lisnagarvey 5 (R Houston 2, L McCracken, A Morwood, L McDonnell) Ballymena 0 Priorians 0; Knock 1 (C Little) Omagh 3 (J Hood 2, L Pinkerton); Senior Cup: Raphoe 6 (L. Smith 3, W Patterson, E Harper, G Reid) Armagh 1 (K Johnston)
Ulster Premier League: Portadown 3 (S Johnston, G Titler, J Brown) Antrim 1 (D Wilson); Raphoe 1 (J Wilson) Mossley 4 (H Dow 3, J Robinson); Queen’s 4 (J Hermon, B Wolseley, C Anderson, M Getty) Cliftonville 0; South Antrim 2 (P Maguire, J Moore) Bangor 5 (R Cunningham 3, R Burgess, M McComb); Newry 0 Instonians 2 (W Robinson, G Leckey); North Down 5 (J Gilmore 2, J Clarke, P Wilson, J Moore) Civil Service 4 (C Barnes 2, M Johnston, S Armstrong); Harlequins 2 (L M McClelland, M Patterson) Kilkeel 4 (G Russell 2, D Finlay, J Aiken)