Islington enjoy gold and silver linings at London Youth Games spring finals!
- Credit: Archant
Islington youngsters enjoyed historic success at the London Youth Games spring finals when picking up two gold medals and a silver during a busy week of competition last week.
The borough was represented by Canonbury Primary School in the girls’ football and hockey tournaments and by St Joan of Arc Primary School in tag rugby and netball competitions, after they had won local events in Islington earlier in the year.
And they combined well to put the borough squad firmly on the map during the week.
Canonbury won four matches and drew three to top their group in the girls’ football, scoring seven goals without reply to reach the last 16.
The Islington youngsters then had a comfortable 3-0 win over Haringey and moved into the quarter-finals against Lambeth, where they won a much tighter game by a 1-0 margin.
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Another strong performance against Barking & Dagenham in the semi-final secured a 2-0 win and set up a final with Bexley, who had been unbeaten for two years and netted the only goal of the game from long range.
Canonbury could still be proud of their silver medal, though, and would later go on to triumph at the English Schools’ FA county finals later in the week.
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The second day of spring finals took place at Redbridge Sports Centre on Thursday and it proved to be a very tough challenge for Islington’s netball squad in a hugely competitive field as they finished 21st out of 32.
The St Joan of Arc rugby team and Canonbury hockey team eased through the first round of their competitions, though, winning each of their games by comfortable margins and topping their groups to raise hopes of success later in the day.
Canonbury made light work of hockey’s second round, winning all three group games against Hounslow, Harrow and Barking & Dagenham by a combined 17-3 margin, while St Joan of Arc beat Redbridge (3-1) and Croydon (1-0) in rugby’s next phase.
A draw with Ealing led to a nervy finish, but Islington topped the group after Ealing could only draw with Croydon in their last game to go through to the medal matches.
Canonbury went from strength to strength in the hockey as they won their quarter-final comfortably 9-2, then defeated Wandsworth 2-1 in the last four after their toughest test.
Wandsworth thought they had equalised in the dying seconds, but it was ruled out for a foul and Islington held firm to reach the grand final with Hillingdon.
Islington were able to impose themselves on the game and showed their quality, turning up the style and making light work of Hillingdon to run out 5-1 winners for a stunning London Youth Games gold medal.
As news filtered through to the rugby team, excitement grew for what might be an incredible ending to an outstanding week for Islington.
St Joan of Arc faced three tough group games against the 2018 finalists to determine medal placings, including one against defending champions Merton.
But showing resilient and tenacious defending, plus some fast, breakaway scores, they beat Bromley 1-0 in the first game.
A loss to Merton in the second game left the group wide open, but Islington were 2-1 up against Richmond, who looked to have snatched a draw late on.
The game was not over, though, and Islington responded almost immediately with a lightning quick break to win 3-2.
A win for Merton in the final group game with Bromley would mean the top two would be decided by tries scored, with anything else seeing Islington become champions.
The Islington youngsters looked on intently as both teams went back and forth, but could only cancel each other out in a 0-0 draw, meant the north London pupils claimed gold.
It brought an incredible week to a close for Islington, as arguably their greatest achievement at the London Youth Games, and rewarded the outstanding passion, hard work and determination by the pupils and staff of Canonbury and St Joan of Arc to prepare and compete against the best borough teams and win.
Michael Peet, Islington Council’s sport development officer, said: “The football, rugby and hockey teams represented by St Joan of Arc and Canonbury pulled off a fantastic result and contributed to a significant and historic achievement for Islington.
“It’s one the pupils and teachers should all be very proud of and one Islington will remember for many years to come.”