Monday, May 4, 2009

Loreto take national honours

Loreto claimed the inaugural Irish Hockey League at Grange Road becoming the first side in the world to win a title on the new penalty one-on-one format.

Louisa Healy proved the heroine in the final reckoning, denying both Jenny Burke and Chloe Watkins in the shoot-out to win the best-of-three competition 2-1.

It meant a first ever victory in the countries top event after numerous near misses in the Club Championships – the forerunner to the IHL – notably overturning last season’s golden goal defeat to Hermes.

The result was hard won following a pulsating 80 minutes of action, full of goalmouth intrigue despite the lack of goals.

Indeed, Loreto twice thought they had a crucial opener – first when Nikki Symmons superb reverse-stick cross was adjudged to have been deflected in by Ali Meeke. Initially awarded, Meeke’s body language suggested she got no so such touch and the effort was chalked once the umpires conferred.

More dramatically, Cathy McKean smashed home in the first period of extra-time before play was pulled back for an earlier Nikki Keegan foot.

The chances, though, were not all confined to one end as Nikki Evans – a hat-trick heroine in Saturday’s semi-final against Cork Harlequins – flashed narrowly wide from Jenny Burke’s quickly taken long corner in the second quarter.

Indeed, Hermes had near total dominance of the second period following an even opening phase.

Gillian Pinder came off the bench to great effect, creating a series of chances and winning a couple of corners.

Indeed, numerous penalty corner chances came and went though the feeling was that Hermes were over-complicating the set-piece rather than taking the direct route which served them well for their fourth goal against Harlequins.

Jenny Kinch saw a pair of sweep shots slip wide while Clodagh Grealy and cohorts produced a series of well-timed blocks.

The third quarter, though, saw an about-turn in momentum as Nikki Symmons escaped the shackles of Linda Caulfield in midfield. Her first act of the second half was to fire that superlative cross which just evaded Meeke’s stick and her combination work with McKean and Niamh Small on the right wing proved a near constant threat.

McKean was twice denied by an out-rushing Emma Gray before almost nicking the win outright in the final 15 seconds of normal time with a reverse that clattered the sideboard.

Moments prior, Aisling Campion picked up a nasty arm injury that required a sling.

Extra-time again produced a series of corners but little more leading to the new penalty competition.

Loreto’s Nikki Keegan and Cathy McKean both scored to take the initiative while Anna O’Flanagan was awarded a penalty goal as Healy committed a stick-foul.

But Healy’s pair of saves from Burke and Watkins proved vital to give the Beaufort side the biggest title in the club’s history.

Zara Delany, meanwhile, picked up the top scorer of the competition to round off a double boon a week into her recovery from a cruciate injury.

Loreto: Louisa Healy, Clodagh Grealy, Nikki Symmons, Nikki Keegan, Cathy McKean, Sarah O’Meara, Rachel Keegan, Lizzie Colvin, Niamh Small, Hannah Matthews, Aisling Campion
Subs: Ali Meeke, Sinead McGirr

Hermes: Emma Gray, Jenny Kinch, Niamh Atcheler, Jenny Burke, Linda Caulfield, Aoife Harte, Christine Quinlan, Aoife McCarthy, Nicola Evans, Sinead McDonnell, Anna O’Flanagan
Subs: Gillian Pinder, Jill Hodgins, Shelley Sloan, Chloe Watkins

* For Adrian Boehm's pictures from the game, click here. For Deryck Vincent's pics, click here and Tom Daly's pics are here. For Stephen West's pictures, click here and Karl Burke's pictures from the game are here.


Anonymous said...

nicola evans got hat trick against pegasus...

Anonymous said...

very little separating these two teams this year. tough way for either team to lose

Anonymous said...

yes was a very even game, thought the new shoot out wasn good at all and 5 mins extra time each way was a bit short

Anonymous said...

If they couldn't score during 70 minutes of play, why was 5 mins extra time too short?! what makes you think they would have scored in the extra 2,5 minutes. It just put the crowd through a bit less time of misery. They should have gone straight to strokes in my view.

Anonymous said...

bit harsh, thought it was a good final despite the lack of goals - bit of intrigue, good chances, not bad at all

Stephen Findlater said...

I've since received info that the reason for Ali Meeke's goal being disallowed was due to it clipping her foot from Nikki Symmons' cross rather than getting no touch whatsoever. This was the reason for her lack of reaction when the ball initially went into the goal.

Hope this clears things up a little.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and credit must go to Carol Metchette for having the sense to reverse her initial decision. So many umpires seem to see reversing as a sign of weakness whereas a good secure umpire won't be threatened by being questioned and will be prepared to change their mind when they realise they made a mistake.

Anonymous said...

3.36pm ...just because a team cant score does'nt make it a boring matcg. Both keepers made some outstanding saves in this game and I'll wager that both sets of supporters were on the edge of their seats . The shootout was exciting no matter what anyone says . How bad is a flicks competition when a player freezes . This at least gives both players (keeper and striker ) a good chance and it places a reasonable emphasis on skill and speed . And it is the current rule . Extra time was always too long and the inevitable mistake from tiredness can devastate one player for a very long time.
Loreto deserved their win . Clodagh Grealy spoke really well about how Ladies club hockey is in a very good space just now , with ever increasing numbers (how many leagues are there now ) better quality ( 4 different winners in Senior Leinster hockey this year ..when did that last happen ? )
It is a shame that whatever is happening in womens hockey is a direct opposite to the mens game ..increasing domination by a few and less and less leagues every year ...Leinster Mens branch need to address that pretty quickly before the lower leagues disappeer

Anonymous said...

well done loreto!!