Andrew’s and Alex set for another final battle

Schoolgirl’s Senior Cup semi-finals
St Andrew’s 3 (Kerri-Ann Cullen, Joanne Lavery, Vera Taaffe) Wesley College 1 (Lauren McGrane)
St Andrew’s finishing power kept them on course for a third successive senior cup title as Wesley applied plenty of pressure but received little joy in breaking down the reigning champion’s defences.

Indeed, Lauren McGrane and Hannah Honner’s full press kept a nervy Andrew’s under the cosh for much of the early stages as the Ballinteer underdogs started in all-action fashion.

They drew a couple of penalty corners – a count they would later win 6-2 – but were unable to turn any into a tangible advantage.

It was with some relief for Andrew’s when they profited from their first major break-out, working the ball to Kerri-Ann Cullen – in search of her first cup success as a newcomer to the school this year – to net.

The change in flow was palpable, Wesley deflated and Andrew’s swagger returned. Joanne Lavery added a cracking second goal soon after when she fired in from the top-left of the circle.

Gillian Pinder was pulling the strings while Sophie Marshall was also a strong presence and the game was done and dusted when skipper Vera Taaffe’s penalty corner strike ramped into the net.

Five minutes from time, McGrane’s pull-back took a defensive deflection into Andrew’s own net but it was scant consolation for Wesley who were undone at the semi-final stage for the second time this term, their Premier League run also denied at the final four stage.

For Andrew’s, they look a strong prospect for Friday’s final at Grange Road (2.30pm) in the first of two showdowns with Alex with the Senior Premier decider to be played on March 15th in St Columba’s.

Alexandra College 3 (Deirdre Duke 3) Mount Anville 2 (Jenny Maguire 2)
Alexandra College set up a revenge mission for the 2010 final as they reached a repeat-decider with St Andrew’s with a topsy-turvy display against Mount Anville at Grange Road.

The damage was done in the early phases of each half – school’s hockey and soccer international Deirdre Duke to the fore – as the Milltown school started strong only to be reeled in by a gutsy Mount Anville performance in the second and fourth quarters of the tie.

An opening, ten minute blitz yielded two goals. The first was created by youth Olympian Emily Beatty who ghosted down the right-wing and delivered and excellent pull-back into Duke’s path to tap in from close range.

The barrage at this stage was constant, Alex working the quick frees to good effect to pen Mount Anville in and they got a second reward when a long corner was slipped to Duke who spun to beat a couple of defenders and find a gap at the near post.

But it was a signal to allow Mount Anville to play with more freedom with Lisa McCarthy – just two days after lifting a European adult indoor title with her club Railway Union – powering them forward.

They got back in the game when Jenny Maguire thundered home a penalty corner, taking a deflection off number one runner Beatty’s stick.

Anville, though, were dealt a big blow at half-time when U-18 international Aisling Naughton was forced off through injury.

And Alex doubled the pain when they refound their mojo in the second period. Hannah McDermott and Duke both went close before the latter finished off a slick corner switch move to make it 3-1.

The response, yet again, was fierce as Anville surged forward but clear-cut chances were hard to come by. Maguire did pummel home her second of the day from another penalty corner but Alex held on for their date with St Andrew’s.

School Girls Premier Section A