ESB IHL semi-final: Pegasus 2 (Suzanne Beaney 2) Cork Harlequins 3 (Hilary Chapple, Antonia McGrath, Cliodhna Sargent) after silver-goal extra-time
Cork Harlequins ended their Pegasus’ hoodoo in dramatic fashion, twice using penalty corner overtime to progress to their first national final since 2003 and ensured a new name will be on the club champion’s trophy.
Cliodhna Sargent battered home a corner on the extra-time, full-time hooter to set off chants of “you ain’t seen nothing like the mighty Quins”.
It had looked an unlikely scenario when the Farmer’s Cross side trailed 2-1 going into the final seconds of normal time. But a clearance fell to Antonia McGrath and she proved the unlikeliest of heroines, scoring her very first goal for the club.
She looked stunned, initially when she picked up the loose ball but steadied herself and her second shot was pure dynamite, cracking the backboard from eight yards on the left of the circle.
Quins’ bench initially invaded the pitch before regaining composure to contest extra-time and their final fantasy was complete ten minutes later.
Early on, Pegs had whipped up an early storm, Suzanne Beaney pulling the trigger inside 50 seconds before Cork’s Jane Chapple squeezed just wide.
Her namesake, Hilary, was the one to break the deadlock in the 10th mnute, flicking home from a narrow angle as she blocked Arlene Boyles goal-line clearance to give Harlequins the lead from the quarter’s only corner.
After the goal, Kirsty McCollum aerialled just wide while a sublime Hilary Chapple diagonal ball from left to right found Cliona O’Connor in space but her shot skipped across the face of goal.
The second period was pitched at a slightly low key quarter with big defensive interventions defining the key moments.
Rachael Kohler’s was the first, intercepting after Claire McMahon had raced down the right wing; her pull-back found a dangerous zone but Kohler was calm to clear.
Sweeper Sinead McCarthy produced the first of a never-ending string of vital touches while Arlene Boyles was similarly alive to keep Quins outside the 22.
Cliodhna Sargent was sin-binned for disputing a corner decision – following a back-stick outside the circle – while Quins had one corner saved by Sharon Moffett, struck by Rachel McSharry.
The game’s momentum switched fully the Belfast side’s way, though, in the third quarter. Suzanne Beaney’s double – coming within four minutes of each other – turned the tie on its head.
She did brilliantly for her first, a right-wing bash got stuck in Amy O’Neill’s pads but the former international whipped the ball out to the left of the goal and, on the slide, reverse-swept by the despairing lunge of two defenders.
Her second was a touch to a crash ball from the 25 and that looked like it might have been enough. But the marauding Yvonne O’Byrne and Rachel McSharry combined to earn a spate of corners in the final period to pile on the pressure.
With time up, they got their eventual reward. Sargent tamely shot but the clearance off Sharon Moffett – who made a string of fine saves – found McGrath and she did the rest.
* Adrian Boehm’s photos from the game can be seen here while to hear Cliodhna Sargent’s thoughts on the game, click the video below: