YMCA were Leinster’s big winners from the four Irish Hockey finals taking place at Belfield this weekend, winning their first ever national title in dramatic style.
They ousted Fermoy in the weekend’s opening fixture – the ESB Irish Hockey Challenge – on penalty strokes, Aimee Powderly netting the crucial flick in a 2-1 win.
Early on, Fermoy raced out of the blocks Maria Daly going close before Trish Fitzpatrick swept in from the top of the circle. There was initial confusion whether the ball had gone in but, after an umpires consultation, the goal rightfully stood.
But, inspired by the trickery of Bradshaw and Susie Hayes, YM got a foothold in the game and leveled in the 31st minute when Joanne Kirby reached a through-ball just before Elaine O’Flynn. Helen Keane netted the ensuing penalty stroke.
Both sides went close in the second half but no goals accrued, with a similar pattern emerging in extra-time. Tara Cronin went closest three minutes from the end of the second period of time added but Liz Barry saved brilliantly off the line for the winner to be decided on strokes.
Next on pitch was Leinster’s only other representative of the finals weekend, Mullingar taking on Ulster newcomers Campbellians in the men’s Challenge final.
The Westmeath side fell behind early in the game as Andy Burnside latched onto a loose ball in the circle – though their was more than a hint of a foot amid the melee. And former English international Chris Maskery bagged the second to also give the Ulster side their first national title.
On Sunday, Ulster Elks gained some return for their double-weekend at Belfield, claiming the inaugural ESB Irish Hockey Trophy with a 2-1 win over Limerick’s finest Catholic Institute.
Jenny McVeigh and Irish international Emma Clarke netted the goals in a 2-1 win, Aoife Kenny getting the response for Institute.
The most entertaining game, though, was reserved for the men’s Irish Hockey Trophy, Ulster Podium Senior One second placed side North Down edging an 11-goal thriller, beating Antrim 6-5 in an incredible end-to-end battle.
ESB Irish Hockey Challenge final: YMCA 1 (Helen Keane) Fermoy 1 (Trish Fitzpatrick) YM win 2-1 on strokes
Men’s Irish Hockey Challenge final: Campbellians 2 (Andy Burnside, Chris Maskery) Mullingar 0
ESB Irish Hockey Trophy final: Ulster Elks 2 (Jenny McVeigh, Emma Clarke) Catholic Institute 1 (Aoife Kenny)
Men’s Irish Hockey Trophy Final: Antrim 5 (Ian Brownless, Ian Creighton, Richard Maybin, Stuart McIlroy, Neil McCullough) North Down 6 (Mark Forest, Andy Forest 3, Gareth Bailie, Chris Speers)