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Friday 14 Jun 2024
Holy Cross College and Lurgan JHS enjoy cup success

Strabane’s Holy Cross College won this year’s Electric Ireland Junior Cup in a thrilling final in Dungannon.

The Under-14 girls defeated Clounagh Junior High (Portadown) by four goals to three at Stangmore Park, home of Dungannon Swifts.

The Junior Cup thriller followed the final of another Electric Ireland-backed competition for girls’ teams within Northern Ireland’s post primary schools.

In the decider of the nine-a-side competition for Year 8 teams it was Lurgan Junior High who prevailed against Assumption Grammar (Ballynahinch).

Holy Cross lost to Belfast’s Dominican College in this year’s Electric Ireland Senior Cup (U18) decider, so their U14s were determined to go one better.

However, they had to endure quite a tussle with Clounagh at the Co Tyrone venue to secure the trophy in their home county.

Holy Cross opened the scoring when a free-kick was parried on the line by Clounagh keeper Bethany Bell and Kayla McSurles swooped to tuck home the loose ball.

The lead lasted less than a minute as a corner from Clounagh's Lucy Megaw was met by Kornelija Arbociute and she finished from close range.

And just a minute later Clounagh’s Megaw found herself free inside the six-yard box following another corner and she made no mistake in finding the net.

Then Radha Burns levelled things up. Leah Craig found her with a fine weighted pass and she managed to steer the ball past the onrushing Bell.

As half-time approached Clounagh's Heidi Curran hit the crossbar from distance, and Heidi Baird also had a chance, while Holy Cross attacker McSurles dragged a shot wide.

Both teams went full throttle after the restart, and it was Clounagh who drew first blood, Baird making no mistake with a low shot from a wide angle that flew into Fianna Gallagher's net.

Then, thanks to Annabelle Boyce's great footwork, Baird found herself in a similar position once again, but this time she dragged her shot wide.

With only minutes remaining, a 35-yard rocket from Holy Cross's Craig levelled the scores. It was a belter.

It looked like the game was heading for extra time when, right at the death, a Holy Cross corner found Craig and she blasted the ball into the net once again – and that meant the trophy was going to Strabane.

The Y8 final was also a fiercely competitive game, with Lurgan JHS and Assumption Grammar going at it from the start.

Assumption’s Abbie Russell had a low shot low saved well by Lurgan keeper Mia Gault, and Assumption’s Rose Higgins shot wide, before Lurgan broke the deadlock. A long pass found Lydia Devlin one-on-one with the goalkeeper and Devlin tucked the ball through her legs and into the net.

Assumption pushed hard for an equaliser, with Aoibhin Sharvin stinging Gault's hands with a shot from distance.

The Ballynahinch side got the breakthrough they deserved when Dacey Carr and Russell linked up well before switching the ball to Ada Farnen and she applied a fine finish into the bottom corner.

Lurgan edged ahead when a free-kick from Devlin fell nicely for Ruby Addis and she swept the ball home.

Assumption put more pressure on before the break, but shots from Sharvin and Russell were well saved by Gault.

It was all Assumption in the second half, with chances falling to Russell, Sharvin, Higgins, Farnen and Alice McAlister, and Gault was by far the busiest keeper.

Assumption came within a whisker of equalising with five minutes remaining. Substitute Hollie McShane’s shot was superbly pushed out by Gault. However, the ball hit a Lugan defender and was heading towards goal only for Gault to jump on it as it looked set to cross the line.

And Lurgan held on to secure the trophy thanks to a 2-1 win.

James Goodman, Post Primary Development Officer with the Irish FA Foundation, said: “Thank you to all four schools who all brought great supporter numbers and created excellent atmospheres at both games.”

Both trophies were presented by Electric Ireland's Anne Smyth. 

Main image: Holy Cross College celebrate their Electric Ireland Junior Cup success.

Gallery images: Action from both finals.