2018 - 2019
After the Burney Cup success of last year, the 1st XI went into the 2018-19 season full of confidence., determined to realise a similar level of success. The season began with friendly wins over Campbell College and Kilkeel, before competitive action began at the All-Ireland Championships, where they were drawn in a group with Methody, Villiers School and, fellow Quaker school, Newtown School Waterford. A 4-1 win over Methody was followed by a 5-1 win over Villiers, which set up a ‘winner-takes-all’ tie against Newtown. Despite Friends’ dominating possession and territory, Newtown scored a well-taken early goal and defended brilliantly for the remainder of the game to progress to the semi-final.
Despite this disappointment, Friends’ had to pick themselves up quickly for the McCullough Cup, in which they hoped to go one step further than last season, where they finished as beaten finalists. Playing some of their best hockey of the season, Friends’ defeated Regent, Grosvenor, Bangor Grammar, RBAI and Methody to top the group with maximum points, scoring 35 goals along the way. Wallace were the semi-final opponents and a closely fought game ended in a 2-2 draw, resulting in penalty run-ins. After five shots each, scores remained tied, but the game was settled in sudden-death with Wallace coming out on top.
With the Burney Cup still left to play for, the Christmas break presented an opportunity to regroup and refocus. First up, in what was the tie of the first round for the neutral, was Irish Schools’ finalists Banbridge Academy. Despite the daunting away draw, Friends’ were confident after 4-1 and 3-2 wins earlier in the season. A slow and error-ridden start to the game, however, had Friends’ 2-0 down in the first ten minutes. A wonderful individual effort from Oliver Kidd got one goal back before half time, before a crisp reverse stick finish from Harry Scott drew Friends’ level. Buoyed by this momentum, Friends’ pushed for a winner, only to be hit on the counter attack in the last minute, with Banbridge winning and converting a short corner to take a 3-2 lead. Enough time remained for Friends’ to win a short corner of their own, but the shot was saved and a season of ‘ifs’ and ‘maybes’ was drawn to a close.
The young 2nd XI team can look back on the season with pride after reaching the semi-finals of the Prior Shield and the final of the Dowdall Cup. In the Prior Shield, Friends’ progressed from their group and faced a strong Sullivan side in the Quarter Final. A great team performance saw them progress to the semi-final stage, only to narrowly lose to Regent House on penalties after a 2-2 draw. Wins over Bangor Grammar, RBAI and Methody saw Friends’ progress to the final of the Dowdall Cup to play Sullivan. After going 1-0 down, Robbie Johnston won and then scored a penalty stroke to draw Friends’ level, but a superbly taken short corner late in the game gave Sullivan an unassailable 2-1 lead.
The Junior sides played enthusiastically throughout the year, hoping to match the achievements of their Senior counterparts. The U15 fell in the first round of the Richardson Cup to a strong Banbridge Academy team. The U14 progressed to the Quarter Finals of the Ferris Cup, where they took Methody to a replay, but eventually lost 1-0. In the Bannister Bowl, the U13 were defeated by Grosvenor in the second round of the competition. The U12 have shown fantastic promise this season and there is great hope that they can go on to challenge for the Bannister Bowl next season.
Well done to Sam Anderson, Rory Brown, Hugo Henderson, Oliver Kidd, Jack McGall and Harry Scott who represented Ulster U18 and to Matthew Aughey and Mackenzie Connor who represented Ulster U16. Further congratulations to Hugo Henderson, Oliver Kidd and Jack McGall who represented Irish U18, and Matthew Aughey who represented Irish U16.
Finally, well done to everyone who turned out for the School this year.