CGS Hockey break new ground

2020 will be known as the year of the finals for Coleraine Grammar School Hockey Club. Two of their girls’ hockey teams the Under 14s and the Senior Girls First XI were both in action in their respective plate competition finals on Tuesday, March 10 and Wednesday, March 11 - a first for Coleraine Grammar School (CGS) which was formed five years ago in September 2015.

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 8:34 am

The first final was played last Tuesday at Stormont, the home of Ulster Hockey, and saw the under 14 team beaten 2-0 by Ballyclare High School, the same school that Coleraine Grammar had beaten 1-0 in a different cup competition earlier in the season.

The match started well with chances going amiss at both ends, with Coleraine Grammar School players Ellie Bucklee and Anna Taylor linking well to get behind the Ballyclare defence only to see Kia McCartney’s shot on goal saved comfortably by the goalkeeper.

Coleraine Grammar player Abbie Davis was also unable to steer a bobbly pass into the goal from close range.

As the match progressed Ballyclare gained more possession and put the Coleraine defence under pressure.

However, it was Kathryn McCurdy, the Coleraine goalkeeper, who kept out some fine efforts from Ballyclare attacks to see the first half finish at 0-0.

The increased pressure from Ballyclare continued into the second half and it did not go unrewarded when Rachel Cox scored their first goal from a short corner, awarded after the Coleraine defence couldn’t quite clear their lines, making it 1-0 to Ballyclare High School.

Play continued and with tensions high both teams played at a higher tempo.

It was Ballyclare who clinched the win with a late strike from their star player Rachel Cox making it 2-0 to Ballyclare High School.

After the match Coleraine Grammar captain Anna Shaw said: “I am proud to have been given the opportunity to lead such a dedicated team of players into a final.

“We played really well as a team and were unfortunate not to replicate our win against Ballyclare from earlier in the season.

“I would like to thank our coaches Miss McCracken, Mr Semple, and Miss Watt for all of their help and guidance throughout the season, without them we wouldn’t be wearing these silver medals.”

FIRST XI

The second final for Coleraine Grammar School was played last Wednesday, again at Stormont, but this time it was their First XI senior squad in action against Antrim Grammar School Firsts - a match which saw Coleraine Grammar win 2-1 to be crowned Senior Schools Plate Champions 2020.

Following the disappointment of the Under 14 team finishing runners up the day before, the Coleraine girls knew only too well the enormity of the challenge that lay ahead.

With their sixth form captain Catherine Lyttle having led by example throughout the tournament, team morale and confidence was high going into the match.

With the teams evenly matched the game got underway and although play was slow at the start tensions were high and there was a sense that either side could still lift the trophy.

Neither team were able to convert chances at each end in the first quarter, chances which included short corners with Coleraine just edging it for possession and ground gained through open play.

The score remained 0-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Having now found the measure of their counterparts, players seemed more settled in the second quarter and it was Coleraine Grammar who were first to score when a shot from captain Catherine Lyttle was deflected away from goal only to be swept in at the back post by left midfield player Erin Caldwell making it 1-0 Coleraine.

Antrim Grammar, undeterred by going a goal down, continued to challenge Coleraine for every loose ball and a lot of 50/50 tackles were going their way particularly in midfield where the Antrim Grammar number 8 showed immense determination to win possession and pressurise Romy Orr in Coleraine’s left back position.

But it was Coleraine Grammar who stood firm and once again came out on top midway through the third quarter when Coleraine centre half Sarah Kirgan initiated attacking play on the right to see Catherine Lyttle’s shot from the edge of the circle be deflected high in the air towards the left post where Coleraine forward Heidi Johnston was on hand to knock the ball into the net with an overhead swipe, a goal worthy of any final.

With the score 2-0 to Coleraine Grammar, Antrim Grammar showed great resilience after conceding the second goal to come back and score their first of the match late in the third quarter via a short corner routine, a goal that would prove to set up a thrilling end to the game.

Both teams kept the best for last and the remaining 15 minutes in the fourth quarter produced some of the most exciting moments of the match.

Some of these moments included; numerous saves from Coleraine goalkeeper Jenna Watt, a disallowed goal from Coleraine player Amy Symmington, a green card for Antrim Grammar number 8, the umpire stopping time to talk to the Antrim Grammar coach, Coleraine player Amy Symmington injuring her ribs after a strike from a lifted ball, and an Antrim Grammar short corner award being reversed to a hit out just as the final whistle blew to end the match 2-1.

After the match Coleraine Grammar School captain Catherine Lyttle said: “This is a fantastic result.

“I cant believe its actually happened.

“We have had to play some tough opposition to get to this final and we knew we would have to be at our best today to win it.

“Every player gave 100% on the pitch and we had to dig deep at the end to keep the score to 2-1. I would like to thank our coaches Mr Semple, Miss Watt, and Mr Johnston for their hard work and giving us the opportunity to play and compete at this level.

“I would also like to thank David McDonald for travelling to all of our matches and providing us with photographs.”

Coleraine Grammar School Headmaster Dr D Carruthers is extremely proud of the achievement of the First XI hockey team and hopes for continued sporting success for the school in the future.