Sports

Royal have sights set on final four

Thursday, 26 January 2017

ROYAL School Armagh Armagh 1st XI coach Judith McVicker is hoping her side can overcome a tricky Armagh derby in the quarter-finals of the Ulster Senior Schoolgirls' Cup this Saturday.

The College Hill outfit make the short trip to Edenavilla to take on Portadown College in the last eight of the competition and while the Royal have edged past Portadown on two separate occasions this season, McVicker admits that it is all to play for.

“We have had two really tough games against Portadown College this season and we were fortunate enough to win the two games 2-1.

“This is cup hockey and we know that those results don't mean anything.

“They work incredibly hard and they are strong in the middle of the pitch and it is an area where we are strong in as well, with Hannah Irwin and Alan Doyle both playing in the Irish Hockey League.

“On the day it will be about whoever settles quickest and there should be a big crowd there with plenty of support for both team."

The Royal go into Saturday's tie as the reigning champions of the inaugural Ulster Super League and Judith admitted that the introduction of that competition has been fantastic for schoolgirls' hockey.

“It is great to have the competition and the idea behind it was to improve the quality of hockey and get it up to an even higher level.

“In the past all you had was your local league, some friendlies and then the Schools' Cup and there was only really one big competition for the girls.

“We are hoping that the new competition will help to raise awareness of the game and the committee have already sat down and looked at ways of improving it once again next year.

“They are hopeful of getting a sponsor on board and someone to sponsor player of the match awards in the finals and hopefully get more media exposure as well."

As a result of the Ulster Super League, the teams were seeded for the Schools' Cup and Judith said that the top teams in Ulster have made it through to the last eight.

“We knew that we would have a good side this year at Armagh, but everyone was saying that the Schools' Cup will be wide open this year.

“The seedings came from the performance in the Super League and they have been spot on and the top teams have all got through.

“There is always a lot of interest in games from the quarter-finals on and I know that the girls would love to get into the semi-finals and play in front of the entire school.

“We have a really tough match on Saturday to overcome first and hopefully we can get through and get into the final four!"

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