UCD 1 (E Russell) Hermes-Monkstown 1 (A O’Flanagan), UCD win 3-0 on shoot-out
UCD completed a perfect season as Clodagh Cassin’s perfect shoot-out record saw them edge out Hermes-Monkstown to yet another title at Grange Road.
It adds the EYHL Champions Trophy to the EY Hockey League title won earlier in April and the Irish Senior Cup last month. Each time, they have had to beat their south Dublin rivals to get to the prize, eliminating from the cup in a shoot-out, too, while the league was settled by two Lena Tice goals in the closing quarter of the game.
To get to Sunday’s final, UCD had beaten Loreto in a shoot-out with Cassin keeping a clean sheet while Hermes-Monkstown had a far easier 6-2 win over an understrength Cork Harlequins.
In the decider, the students made the first major incision when they worked the ball into the circle which popped up the way of Deirdre Duke. Her backhand volley thumped the base of the post and a series of follow-up shots were somehow scrambled away by Liz Murphy’s defence.
But, in O’Flanagan, Hermes-Monkstown have the runaway top-scorer with 40 goals prior to the final and she snapped up the one chance to fall her way in the first half. As so often, Nikki Evans was the creator with a delightful cut inside from the right wing, leading Lena Tice and Leah Ewart on a merry dance before flipping the ball into the path of O’Flanagan who swiped home.
UCD continued to create the stronger chances with Gillian Pinder clean through only to flick wide while Jane O’Brien could not control an Emma Russell pass when well placed.
Credit: Adrian Boehm
Hermes-Monkstown won a pair of corners to close out the half and earned another pair two minutes into the second half. None drew a clear shot at goal though Sarah Patton did sustain a nasty knee injury from the fourth set piece.
The students continued to push forward and when Duke won their first corner, they were back on terms. It was not a thing of beauty as the first phase was blocked down and Tice’s shot was off course but Emma Russell sniffed a chance and pounced on the ball at the right post to guide it in.
Russell then stung Murphy’s palm after a brilliant Pinder run. It re-awoke Hermes-Monkstown and they created some top openings but reverses from Evans and one particularly spectacular strike from Sinead Loughran fizzed by the post.
Chloe Watkins had two strong strikes repelled by Clodagh Cassin as the pressure built minute on minute. UCD rode out that spell, however, and had the best chance to win the tie in the closing five minutes when they won their second penalty corner.
Both Duke and Katie Mullan saw their strikes blocked, sending the game to a shoot-out.
As with a day earlier in the semi-finals, Cassin proved a superstar. Against Loreto, she kept a clean sheet in the shoot-out and she did so once again in the final, denying Watkins, Ellen Curran and Rosie Carrigan. With Sarah Twomey and Mullan doing the business in attack, it was down to Orla Patton to seal the deal and complete a famous treble.
Reflecting on an epic EY Hockey League season, Mike McKerr, Country Managing Partner, EY Ireland said: “As a firm, EY is extremely proud to be here today supporting Irish hockey at the culmination of these months of training, hard work and commitment from everyone involved since last September.
“We are committed to building the highest performing and most diverse teams, and when it comes to leadership, teaming and developing winning strategies, there is a great deal to learn from professional sports people such as these players. We are also committed to gender equality and diversity – something which is at the heart of hockey – and therefore plays an important role in our continued sponsorship of the EY Hockey League.”
Earlier in the day, Belfast Harlequins avoided relegation with a 3-1 win over Lurgan in the EYHL promotion-relegation battle. Lucy Geddes gave them the perfect start with a second minute goal before Rachel and Laura Johnston put them three to the good. Kerrie Burns got one back but could not affect the outcome of the tie.
UCD: C Cassin, S Twomey, A Russell, L Ewart, O Patton, E Russell, S Patton, G Pinder, L Tice, K Mullan, D Duke
Subs: N Cooke, S O’Loughlin, A Richardson, E Duncan, S Clarke, J O’Brien, S Robinson
Hermes-Monkstown: L Murphy, C Quinlan, R Carrigan, S Loughran, N Evans, E Horan, E Curran, S Kelly, S Greene, A O’Flanagan, C Watkins