That six of the eight ties ended in 2-1 results tells the tale of an incredibly tight day of ESB Senior Cup action as Railway battled back from a goal down to beat Hermes and Loreto and UCD needed golden goals to seal places in the quarter-finals.
At St Andrew’s, Hermes showed many fine qualities, exemplified by Fiona Connery, but were cracked by a tenacious Railway side who soaked up sustained first half pressure and struck with a superb second-half goal from Emma Smyth to advance.
Jenny Burke gave the Booterstown club the lead when he exploded into the circle from the right wing and, under pressure, picked off a brilliant shot to beat Helen Stevenson. It was the only time the ‘keeper would be beaten as the Ireland A player kept the navy hordes at bay with a string of quality interventions.
Cecelia Joyce subsequently tied the game up before the break with a hotly-contested effort. Nikki Evans’ – who made a 20-minute cameo – shot ballooned up only for Joyce to, with Emma Gray in very close proximity, tap in at close to shoulder-height.
And, in spite of second half pressure, Railway took the glory with a superb strike. Kate Dillon’s overhead was taken in by Kate McKenna to feed Smyth in the circle. Dragging the ball to the vacant space wide on the right of the circle, Smyth unleashed a spectacular, chipped effort over Gray.
At Beaufort, Loreto also went through by the odd goal in three by virtue of a fine team goal. Niamh Small was on target for the second time in a week, shooting home following a pitch-length move instigated by Nikki Symmons and included contributions from Nicci Daly, Aisling Campion and Nikki Keegan.
That golden strike broke the hearts of the Ulster side who made this a high-quality tussle, typified by Symmons’ battle with Emma Stewart in midfield. Ali Meeke had given Loreto the lead with an excellent, knee-high touch to round out Nicci Daly’s incredible left-wing run and reverse-stick cross but Armagh were level inside two minutes courtesy of Jackie Orr.
UCD were another side who needed extra-time to progress but Kerry McComish was on hand to score her first goal in College colours to nick the win in Bray. Pembroke were the other Leinster side to advance as goals from Shona Doyle and Hilda Maguire saw the purples sneak home ahead of Glenanne.
Old Alex, however, were ambushed by Cork Harlequins at Farmer’s Cross despite holding a tenth minute lead when Lucy Cotter applied an immaculate deflection to Roisin Flinn’s cross. Flinn was a danger throughout but Quins always held the balance of power and were back on terms when Cliodhna Sargent smashed in a straight hit from a corner.
And Karen Bateman won the tie in the second half with a brilliantly executed first time shot to a bouncing ball, served up by Sinead McCarthy.
Munster’s contingent in the competition, though, was cut in half as UCC failed to recover a 2-0 deficit at Ards while Pegasus were the only side in the competition to enjoy a modicum of comfort when they beat Randalstown 4-2.
In the Trophy, Clontarf and North Kildare were the only Leinster sides to advance. They beat NUIG and Kilkeel respectively on 3-1 scorelines.
Avoca, Botanic, Kilkenny, Newbridge and Genesis were all bested – the latter by a very impressive Queens’ side. In the late game, Weston were denied a second round date with Carrickfergus by Banbridge on golden goal.
ESB Irish Senior Cup Round 1
Hermes 1 (Jenny Burke) Railway Union 2 (Cecelia Joyce, Emma Smyth); Pembroke Wanderers 2 (Shona Doyle, Hilda Maguire) Glenanne 1 (Audrey McCormack); Loreto 2 (Ali Meeke, Niamh Small) Armagh 1 (Jackie Orr) after golden goal extra-time; Ards 2 (Katie Fraser 2) UCC 1 (Julia O’Halloran); Cork Harelquins 2 (Cliodhna Sargent, Karen Bateman) Old Alex 1 (Danielle Costigan); Pegasus 4 (Michelle Harvey, Shelley Sloan, Suzanne Beaney, Clare McMahon) Randalstown 2 (Vanessa Surgeoner, Jane McGrillen); Bray 0 UCD 1 (Kerry McComish) after golden goal extra-time; Lisnagarvey 1 (Jane Clarke) Ballymoney 2 (Lynsey McVicker, Rachel Lightbody)
ESB Irish Junior Cup
Pegasus II 1 (Hannah Clarke) Randalstown II 3 (Emma Clarke, Pamela Muir, Holly Steele)
ESB Irish Hockey Trophy:
Queens 2 Genesis 1; NUIG 1 Clontarf 3; Avoca 0 Ashton 4; Kilkenny 1 Galway 5; North Kildare 3 Kilkeel 1; Newbridge 2 Carrickfergus 3; Knock 2 Botanic 1; Banbridge 2 Weston 1 after golden goal extra-time; Parkview-Coleraine
* For Deryck Vincent’s photos from the Hermes vs Railway Union game, click here