Methodist College won the Subway All-Ireland Schoolgirls Championships for the first time by the narrowest of margins, edging out reigning champions Crescent College by a single goal on goal difference.
It owed much to the inspiration of captain Katie Larmour who hailed her side’s amazing achievement, winning the competition after her side only won the Ulster title last week for the first time in 28 years.
“It’s so exciting. Methody have never won it and I don’t think we have ever been down involved in the competition before,” she said. “It’s just unbelievable; if someone had of said we would win the Ulster schools cup and the Kate Russell, I probably would have laughed at them. The level of competition was fabulous.”
Her role encompassed six goals and four assists en route to earning the player of the tournament crown, something she said was a bit out of the norm for her but a truly special way to end her schools career.
“It is a bit unusual; I don’t regularly score. It’s a bit of a change! This is the last time I will wear this school shirt so I am so happy that it ended like that. There aren’t that many in upper sixth like me, most have another year so they should have a great team for next year.”
It was a thrilling duel throughout with Methody, Crescent and Alexandra College all vying for the title from beginning to end.
The Ulster side were denied the perfect start to the competition late in the day as Maebh O’Sullivan’s goal saw them tie 2-2 with Crescent in the tournament’s opening game.
From there, though, they produced a perfect record. They ran up a cracking 5-3 win over Galway’s Salerno in their second tie with Katie Larmour firing home a hat trick.
It left them in a share of second place after day one with Crescent who beat Loreto Kilkenny in their other tie 2-0 with Niamh O’Keeffe powering home twice. Alexandra College topped the table after they beat Salerno 2-1 and Kilkenny 4-1, setting up a thrilling second day of action.
Methody put the pressure on when they beat Loreto Kilkenny 4-0 with Rhiannon Coulter netting twice in the closing few minutes. These goals would prove crucial in the final standings.
Crescent continued their charge with a 4-0 win of their own against Salerno with Aebhfhinn Bourke scoring all four goals in a brilliant performance.
Crucially, though, Methody followed up with a 3-1 win over Alexandra College, leaders after day one.
The Dubliners had taken a first half lead when Jan Cleary poked home from a couple of inches out. But the story of the tournament was one of penalty corners and Methody converted three in the second half to claim this result with Madison Bowyer, Larmour and Rhiannon Coulter all finding the backboard.
That result left Alex out of contention for the main title but Limerick hosts Crescent still could pip the Ulster side if they could pull off a three-goal win in the tournament’s final game.
Crescent created numerous first half openings against Alex with Jane Kirby wreaking havoc but no goals accrued until 11 minutes from the end when Aebhfhinn Bourke – with her fourth goal of the day – converted.
They threw everything forward but could not break through, meaning Methodist were the victors in the final reckoning. Crescent ended second overall with Alex ending third.
Speaking at the prize presentation, Muriel O’Grady, Marketing Board Chair SUBWAY® Ireland said:
“Congratulations to the newly crowned SUBWAY® All-Ireland Schoolgirls Champions, Methodist College.
The skill and sportsmanship of all the schools participating in the SUBWAY® All-Ireland Schoolgirls Championship has been hugely impressive and their schoolmates, who travelled from all over the country to support their teams, should also be congratulated.
The SUBWAY® brand and our network of franchisees all over Ireland are very proud to be supporting schools hockey throughout Ireland and already looking forward to next year’s competition”.
Subway Kate Russell All-Ireland Schoolgirls Championships
Day one results: Crescent CC 2 (M O’Sullivan 2) Methodist College 2 (K Larmour, A Armstrong); Alexandra College 2 (I Delamar, A Acheson) Salerno 1 (M Corcoran); Crescent CC 2 (N O’Keeffe 2) Loreto Kilkenny 0; Methodist College 5 (K Larmour 3, M Bowyer, S McCollum) Salerno 3 (M Hughes, R Gilligan, E Burke); Alexandra College 4 (F McDermott 2, A Acheson, S Roopnarinesingh) Loreto Kilkenny 1 (J Brennan)
Day two: Loreto Kilkenny 0 Methodist College 4 (R Coulter 2, K Larmour, J Savage); Crescent College 4 (A Bourke 4) Salerno 0; Methodist College 3 (M Bowyer, K Larmour, R Coulter) Alexandra College 1 (J Cleary); Salerno 1 Loreto Kilkenny 1 (S Browne); Alexandra College 0 Crescent 1 (A Bourke)
Standings: 1. Methodist College 10pts (+8) 2. Crescent College 10pts (+7) 3. Alexandra College 6pts (+1) 4. Salerno 1pt (-7) 5. Loreto Kilkenny 1pt (-9)
PHOTO CREDIT: Adrian Boehm