The Welsh Championship event has returned bigger and better than ever before. Six teams battled it out to be crowned champions of Wales and secure qualification for the Europa Cup first round in Slovakia later this year. Last year Cardiff Raptors competed at the prestigious European event, which was held in Cardiff for the first time.
Group A: Cardiff Raptors 1, Aberystwyth Red Kites, and Cardiff City Archers.
Group B: Cardiff City Cyclones, Cardiff University 1, and Cardiff Raptors 2.
The opening matches saw first blood for Cyclones and Raptors 1, against Raptors 2 and Archers respectively. Next up Cardiff University and Aber Red Kites also took victories against the same opposition, consigning Archers and Raptors 2 to the duel for 5th.
The final group matches were essentially semi-finals, with the winners progressing to the final and the others heading for the 3rd place play-off. Both games were fairly close, with Aber pushing hard for a good result against Raptors 1 who controlled the match with their Regional League experience. On the other pitch, Cardiff University and Cyclones had a repeat of their hard fought battles in the Welsh National League. There was just 1 goal in it at half-time, but the experienced Cyclones edged ahead in the second half to secure their place in the final.
Archers and Raptors 2 can lay claim to the tightest encounter of the event, as they traded goals throughout with Raptors 2 often taking a 2 goal lead just for Archers to claw it back. In the dying minute Archers struck the fatal blow by taking the lead at just the right time, and holding on to win by the slimmest of margins.
In the fight for third, Aber Red Kites squared up to the mighty Cardiff University 1. Red Kites showed why they deserved to be in this match by demonstrating how far they have improved since the start of the season. It wasn’t to be this year though as Cardiff University 1 secured a hard won third place.
The final started of with electrifying precision. Two shots, two goals, from two Wales internationals got the match off to a 1-1 start. It remained cagey in the opening phases as the two sides figured each other out. It was Cyclones who took the upper hand though and opened out a commanding lead. For Cyclones, they had another eye on Regional League playoffs the next weekend where they hope to join Raptors next season, so this was an early test which they passed with flying colours. Raptors have had a difficult end to the season with turnover of players, but this Welsh Championship went convincingly to Cyclones.
It is the first time Cardiff City are the champions of Wales for four years, and they will represent Wales at the IKF Europa Cup in Slovakia.