Sullivan Upper breezed into the second round of the John Minnis Estate Agents Burney Cup with a comprehensive 12-0 win over Portadown College.
The going is sure to get tougher as the Holywood outfit await the draw for the last 16 after they lifted the McCullough Cup last season before losing to Friends in the John Minnis Estate Agents Burney Cup final. However, Sullivan coach Paul Osborne had sympathy for Portadown, who didn’t have their troubles to seek before the game.
“They had sickness in their camp and four additional cry-offs on the day of the match, including their very good goalkeeper,” said Paul.
“Joel Lutton, their captain was superb as were several other Portadown players but, in the end, their young team just ran out of energy and we scored several times as they tired.”
Sullivan, beaten on penalties by Wallace in this season’s McCullough Cup final before Christmas, were two goals up after five minutes and led 5-0 at half-time. Matthew Willis scored four of the goals, Paddy Crookshanks got two with the others coming from Daniel Girvin, Connor Smith, Nathan Keown, Harry Yarr, Sam Anderson and Patrick Rose.
Elsewhere, Rory Laverty hit two of the goals as Antrim GS beat Kilkeel High 3-2 while Josh Kerr and Charlie McClain scored for Ballyclare High in a 2-0 away win over BRA to keep the school on course for a double success.
Ballyclare’s girls completed the Belfast Telegraph Ulster Senior Cup quarter-final line up with a 5-2 win over Methodist College on Wednesday. Rebecca McCullough got two of the Ballyclare goals with the others coming from Amy McGookin, Megan Cochrane, and Molly Dougan. After a tight first-half when Methody drew level after trailing early on, Ballyclare led 2-1 at the break and then pulled away after the restart.
“It’s great to be into the semi-finals but Methody made it hard for us and we took our chances in the circle,” said Rebecca.
Elsewhere, Ellie Stewart (2), Charlotte Beggs and Sara Semple were on target for holders Rainey in a 4-1 win over Dalriada. Sophie Mount got two of the goals as Banbridge Academy beat Wallace High 6-0 and Strathearn were narrow 2-1 winners over Royal School Armagh. The draw for the semi-finals will take place at the Belfast Telegraph offices on Tuesday afternoon.
The big game on Saturday sees holders Friends take on Banbridge Academy in the first round of the John Minnis Estate Agents Burney Cup at Havelock Park.
After losing out at Wallace High in last season’s first round, the Academy again play another Lisburn powerhouse after the original tie was postponed on Wednesday due to frost.
The Sinton’s at the Bridge and Prentice BMW Mini sponsored Academy side have been close to success this season only to suffer two devastating 1-0 defeats.
They fought magnificently through the Irish Schools’ Championships in October, defeating Dublin favourites Wesley College and St Andrew’s en route to the final where they agonisingly lost to this season’s surprise quantity Newtown School.
The McCullough Cup also ended disappointingly at the end of November when Sullivan Upper scored a late goal to snatch victory and knock out the Academy boys.
The Academy team has plenty of experience winning big games with all of the squad having won either the Burney, McCullough or Richardson cups in recent years.
Captain Scott Dale is hugely knowledgeable having represented Ulster and Ireland at both Under 16 and Under 18 age groups and leads this group by example with a determined, professional attitude. At the back, the maturity of Ryan Simms and Lewis Bingham has helped youngster Charlie Rowe develop into a robust defensive force. Harry Lockhart’s return to form after early season injury has been a huge asset to the team and his adaptability allows flexibility to the teams formation.
Young star Edward Rowe has been a revelation this season and his development at both school and club level has been spectacular. Two other midfielders who have been making their mark with Banbridge Hockey Club 1st XI are Mark Barlow and Mark Cowan. Barlow has scored important goals all season and Cowan’s influence grows in every game.
Philip Campbell’s energy in the forward line in infectious and he never lets any defence settle. Luke McConnell’s flair and Chris Curry’s determination have created many opportunities for their team-mates and with Louis Rowe chipping in with the odd goal, they will be a big threat to Friends.
To make it through to the next round of the John Minnis Estate Agents Burney Cup, the Academy lads have to overcome a dangerously efficient side. Friends’ failed to make it out of their group in the Irish Schools’ and then lost out in the McCullough Cup semi-finals but they are a side full of Ulster and Irish representatives. Banbridge coach Simon Jess will not underestimate the task in hand but he will be encouraged by some great performances from his team since Christmas.
The Academy have drawn 3-3 with McCullough winners Wallace High and defeated McCullough semi-finalists Methodist College 5-0 in recent weeks.