2nd May 2o17: As the Club season is concluding all over Europe, Ireland have confirmed their European places for 2018.
Women’s EY Champions Trophy Final
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.
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.
Men’s EY Champions Trophy final
Three Rock Rovers 2 (K Mullins, M Darling) Monkstown 1 (D Carson)
Mitch Darling’s wonder goal saw Three Rock Rovers land the EY Champions Trophy for the first time as they saw off Monkstown 2-1 at Grange Road.
The Olympian provided the moment of inspiration with 10 minutes to go, burst
That made it 2-0, adding to Kevin Mullins’ first half opener, and while Davy Carson pulled one back, Rovers saw out the tie and the silverware.
For coach Niall Denham, it was particularly pleasing having coached a dozen of the squad since they were 12 years old before taking up the head job two seasons ago. Captain Jody Hosking, meanwhile, said “we’re only getting started”, pointing to the side’s age profile with only four players over 23 in their panel as they came from outside the playoffs last term to ending the league just three goals short of Banbridge this time around.
They edged through Saturday’s semi-final against Lisnagarvey – as did Monkstown against Banbridge – after a shoot-out with both ties ending 3-3.
Sunday’s final was a more controlled affair. Three Rock hit the front in the 15th minute when Jody Hosking cut loose down the left-hand side before firing a backhand shot to the right post where Kevin Mullins was on hand to guide home.
Monkstown replied by winning a penalty corner but could not trap it and, otherwise, spent most of the half on the back foot as Rovers enjoyed long spells of possession. James Walker was twice denied by David Fitzgerald at close quarters while the Town goalkeeper also kept out Hosking and Ross Canning.
Geoff Cole had the only shot in earnest for Monkstown but skewed his effort over the bar. Town stepped things up considerably in the third quarter with Andrew Ward making a number of strong runs, one of which just evaded Davy Carson’s dive.
Luke Madeley was required to twice clear off the line from a Guy Sarratt drag-flick and a Geoff Cole follow-up. Rovers thought they had a second goal on the three quarter hooter when Madeley dragged in from their first penalty corner but it was ruled out as the initial stop was ruled not to have left the scoring circle before the shot came in.
But three minutes after the resumption came Darling’s moment of magic, bursting through from halfway before unleashing a powerful shot past international team mate Fitzgerald.
Monkstown again summoned a big fightback and got on the board when Lee Cole’s crash ball was turned in by Carson. He went close to grabbing another soon after but Jamie Carr got down well to prevent the equaliser.
From there, Rovers held on for the victory, their first in the Irish Hockey League’s history having won the forerunner to the competition back in 2008 – the old Irish Club Championships.
It earns them a place in the Euro Hockey League’s KO16 next Easter, meaning they will play in Europe twice as they also won the National Indoor Trophy.
Banbridge, as EY Hockey League champions, will be the other Irish side in the Euro Hockey League and will contest ROUND1 next October.
Source: Hockey Ireland
Photo Credit: Adrian Boehm