Sunday, January 17, 2010

Loreto and Railway make up All-Leinster final

Railway Union and Loreto will contest the first all-Leinster ESB Irish Senior Cup final in four years in May after they disposed of Pegasus and reigning champions UCD respectively to advance.

For Railway, it will be a first ever national senior title of any description as their incredible, 100pc season continues apace adding the Ulster champions scalp to their list of victories which also includes Munster champions and IHL winners in 2009/10.

Loreto, though, have the experience on the big stage and will be going in search of their ninth final win and a number of the side enjoyed glory in the two in-a-row of 2002 and 2003. The Beaufort club's 1-0 triumph over UCD gained a modicum of revenge for last season's penalty strokes elimination at the genesis of the student's famous cup run.

Railway's 3-1 win in Belfast over Pegasus was a collector's item with the Ulster champions nigh on unstoppable on home turf in the past 15 years. But Mick McKinnon's charges whipped up a 3-0 lead and while Arlene Boyles' strike threatened a comeback, the visitors were too far clear at that point, deep into the second half.

The Park Avenue side shaded the first half in territory and possession columns and were rewarded when Jean McDonnell guided Isobel Joyce's hard hit brilliantly into the roof of the net. Emma Smyth had moments earlier surged through the Pegs' defence and rounded the goalkeeper only to see her shot cleared off the line.

It was to be one of four such clearances overall - two for each side - as the fixture as played at break-neck speed. Nikki Evans doubled the difference four minutes after the break, finishing off a devastating move, assisted finally by Cecelia Joyce before Kate McKenna cracked in a brilliant first-time reverse following Patricia O'Dwyer's run took out three defenders.

Pegasus, orchestrated by the wily Claire McMahon, threw bodies forward and picked off a goal through Boyles but, denied off the line by Emer Lucey and Cecelia Joyce, were unable to get back into the tie in a lively closing stanza which Suzanne Beaney sin-binned.

Loreto's triumph at Belfield was a more tense affair, starting an hour late as a result of the overtime in the men's tie between UCD and Monkstown. That delay meant Loreto were shorn of Nicci Daly who had to attend an exam.

Cathy McKean's 15th minute goal proved the sole difference, scoring from the first real opening, finishing off a fluent move in which Lizzie Colvin was the key element.

She raced down the left flank before working her way into the circle and offering up a slightly lobbed cross for the ace finisher to complete. Catriona Tipping's individual run and shot was well saved from the half's other major opening while Lisa Jacob was a constant threat in the opposite direction.

The Irish international was the prompting force for the Belfielders purple patch in the game's third quarter but Louisa Healy dealt with a series of corners as open country was difficult to find for either team nor was the tie especially free-flowing.

Tipping shot just wide in the second half but it was not needed as Loreto doggedly held on for the final place - their first since the 2003 title.

Elsewhere, Sarah-Ann O'Connor's late goal gave Three Rock Ladies a quarter-final place in the Irish Hockey Trophy where they will play Portadown. Knock and Greenfields also advanced to the last eight and the latter were drawn against Galway in a Connacht derby.

ESB Irish Senior Cup, semi-final results:
UCD 0 Loreto 1 (Cathy McKean); Pegasus 1 (Arlene Boyles) Railway Union 3 (Jean McDonnell, Nikki Evans, Kate McKenna)

Irish Hockey Trophy, third round:
Three Rock Ladies 2 (Brigid Charmant, Sarah-Ann O'Connor) Dromore 1 (Shauna Haughey); Queens 1 Knock 3 (Joanne Carlisle 2, Diane Hagan); Omagh 0 Greenfields 4 (Alma Whelan, 2, Neasa McGettigan, Ciara Power)
IHT quarter-final draw: Portadown vs Three Rock Ladies; Ashton vs Wexford; Knock vs Catholic Institute; Greenfields vs Galway

* For more of Adrian Boehm's photos from UCD vs Loreto, click here. Photos of the IHT match Three Rock Ladies vs Dromore, can be seen here.


Anonymous said...

railway look set to win all four titles this year

Anonymous said...

they said similar about annadale in the early noughties but they have still to win an irish trophy. railway have to win this year or they could end up in the same boat.

Anonymous said...

Fair play to railway, that 100% record is incredible at this stage of the year!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic Railway - Loreto in the final - it could really be a fantastic final - with Railway to win
Its been a great season so far, the girls work hard under the great guidance of Mick and Una - keep up the good work

Anonymous said...

It was a fantastic match to watch, some great goals. Great umpiring too. Never seen an umpire get injured and have to be replaced before!!

Anonymous said...

Railway are in a position where they are still in each competition, but things are very tight in the league and one or two bad results could cost them that title, and we all know how things are in cup competitions. The IHL, ISC and Leinster Cup are all decided on the basis of one final game so Railway will need to keep going the way they are in order to gain one or all of these titles. They are capable of it, but they will know that nothing is guaranteed. Great season so far though

Anonymous said...

It's great to see Railway continuing on from last season. In the past, upcoming teams that have looked like they could challenge Hermes and Loreto have fizzled out - like Alex a few years ago when they reached the ISC final and the Pembroke team a few years ago. Great that it's not just the big two anymore in Leinster. They are also great to watch because they play at such a high pace. Good luck in the final girls!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Railway are great to watch. They play at high pace and have some great skills especially aerially.

Anonymous said...

Nikki Evans seems to be fitting in fine in her new club! Seems to be netting at least one every week. She gets to play her old team twice next weekend, which will be fun to watch