Ulster Hockey hosted our annual Girls Finals Day at Stormont this morning with Portadown and CI coming out on top in the two competitions.
It was an early start with the first games getting underway at 9:30, with teams competing in three groups of four teams. The top two in each group progressed to the quarter-finals alongside the two best placed third teams.
The Shield got underway with Ballynahinch getting off to a promising start as they comfortably beat Ballyclare 2-0. However, after the first round of fixtures it was Antrim who looked to be favourites as they beat Parkview 5-0.
As the group stages continued there were several teams who got off to a good start and looked to be early pace setters. Amongst those teams were the likes of Ards, Instonians and Lurgan with all three teams amongst those to make it to the quarter-final stage.
As we entered the the knockouts there was little to separate the sides with three of the four games finishing 1-0 as Dromore, Ards and CI all progressed to the semis. Meanwhile, Rainey were the other side to make it through as they beat a strong Antrim side 2-0.
Dromore faced Ards in the first of the semi-finals and again another close encounter was played. With both sides threatening to take the lead, it was Dromore who finally broke the deadlock, whilst their opponents also looked like getting a goal of their own the leading defence held them off and managed to book themselves a place in the final.
The other tie saw Rainey take on CI and they proved inseparable in normal time with it becoming the first fixture of the day to go to penalty run-ins. After some heroics from their goalkeeper to give her side the upper hand, CI would run out eventual winners.
Those results meant both Dromore and CI would face off in the final.
Yet again, another close encounter saw the two teams go goalless as the defences prevailed at Stormont which meant for a second game in a row CI would go to penalty run-ins.
Their experience from the previous round proved to be beneficial as they once again came out on top in the shootout with Dromore missing three of their four strikes as CI were crowned plate Champions.
Today’s Cup competition ran simultaneously alongside the The Shield with Portadown becoming early favourites as they won their first group game against KV 5-0.
Meanwhile, other sides such as Pegasus and Mossley both impressed during their opening games before making it through to the quarter-final stage.
It was once again Portadown who caught the eye as they got the biggest win of the round, progressing as they beat Omagh 4-0. Elsewhere, Banbridge, KV and Pegasus all made it through to the semi-finals with 1-0 wins over Lisnagarvey, Mossley and Bangor.
Our first tie of the round saw Portadown take on KV in a repeat of their opening group game. Whilst the same side went on to win the fixture, this time it was a much closer encounter as KV put in a resilient performance before eventually losing 2-0.
The other tie saw Pegasus take on Banbridge. Both sides had impressed throughout the day and put in an equally good performance against one another. However, it was the Belfast side who took the lead before their defence kept another clean sheet to progress to the final.
That result meant they had won both their quarter-final and semi-final by a 1-0 scoreline as they prepared to face Portadown in the final.
Both teams went into the game knowing they were facing stiff opposition with each team grabbing the headlines throughout the day for their performances.
However, in the game itself it was Portadown who came out on top in a tight encounter which saw a solitary goal be the difference as they prevailed in a 1-0 win to become Champions.