Pegasus on for national double as Hermes qualify for European berth

Women’s Irish Hockey League semi-finals
Pegasus 4 (Claire McMahon 2, Suzanne Beaney, Arlene Boyles) UCD 1 (Jess McMickan)

Pegasus kept alive their dream of winning just their first national trophy double since 2007 as they swept past UCD in the second half of their women’s IHL semi-final.

In a repeat of the Irish Senior Cup semi, the Ulster side began in excellent style, Claire McMahon winning a penalty corner inside 20 seconds and they won two more inside four minutes.

None were converted but they did have the lead in the 12th minute when Arlene Boyles bashed into the circle from halfway; Kirsty McCollum got a stick got to it first and the ball fell kindly for Suzanne Beaney who dodged to the centre of the circle and cracked home.

In a similar fashion to their prior meeting, UCD belatedly found their feet, Caroline Hill’s steal almost unlocking the door while Chloe Watkins’ switch to right-midfield was also instrumental.

Her slap-shot was well saved by Sharon Moffett but the sides were level when the Irish international raced down the right wing, beat a couple of rogue sticks before squaring. Jess McMickan swept first time for 1-1, despite the despairing pad from Moffett.

And that is the way it stayed until the 52nd minute. After a couple of waves of corners, Boyles did the trick when as she found a route through Stella Davis’ defences, albeit with a couple of slight nicks on the way.

McMahon deservedly got on the scoresheet when Beaney’s persistence, flipping the ball out of Davis’ pads, left her the simplest of chances for a killer goal nine minutes from time.

UCD had a couple of corners to force the issue late on but their usually reliable switches were snuffed out and McMahon completed a comfortable victory toward the end. A sixth penalty corner had gone messy but McMahon took control to authoritatively smack home.

They have one worry, though, going into tomorrow’s final as Nadine Graham only lasted into the second quarter as her heavily bandaged leg left her reaching for the tracksuit early on, not to return again.

Pegasus: Sharon Moffett, Kirsty McCollum, Nadine Graham, Claire McMahon, Suzanne Beaney, Kate McConnell, Arlene Boyles (capt), Michelle Harvey, Pamela Glass, Stephanie Quinn, Vanessa Surgeoner
Subs: Shelly Sloan, Amy Cooke, Kerry Harvey, Grace Irwin, Lucy Camlin
UCD: Stella Davis, Rosie Carrigan, Megan Tennant Humphreys (capt), Caitriona McGilp, Chloe Watkins, Rachel Burke, Niamh Atcheler, Laura Wilson, Emily Menzies, Rachel O’Reilly, Brenda Flannery
Subs: Leigh Pelow, Caroline Hill, Orlagh O’Shea, Jessica McMickan, Leah Lenehan

Railway Union 1 (Alex Speers) Hermes 3 (Eimear Horan 2, Lisa Jacob)
Hermes took the second final place with a back-to-the-wall performance, scoring three times in six third quarter minutes to inspire their success despite spending most of the day deep in their own territory. With Pegasus winning the earlier tie, it meant this was a straight knock-out for a European place with the Ulster side having already claimed the Senior Cup.

Lisa Jacob was the architect, pouncing on a defensive blunder for the second before excellently creating the third for

Eimear Horan to tap in. Much more than that, though, she charged down a string of penalty corners as Railway had nine set pieces but only drew one save from Emma Gray.

Railway bossed the first half, taking the lead in brilliant fashion as Zara Delany danced down the left wing and her pull-back was met on by the on-rushing Alex Speers to first time into the far corner.

It was a rare clear-cut chance as the Sandymount side flashed a few crosses in front of goal and a couple of Kate Dillon, Speers and Smyth drives were shut down on the circle’s edge. Hermes, though, were defending reasonably smartly, sitting back to negate the pace of Railway’s forward troops.

Indeed, Hermes thought they had a nabbed a chance to level a minute before the break when Jacob’s pull-back found Emma Russell whose shot hit a foot. A stroke was initially signalled but consultation downgraded it to a corner, a covering defender deemed to have been able to block the shot had it missed the foot. The corner was cleared to leave it 1-0 at the break. Railway started in similar fashion, taking two corners before Speers saw green for a stick tackle.

It gave Hermes their best period and at the end of that two minute spell, Eimear Horan levelled in emphatic fashion, drifting right to hit the top of the D and picking out the top right corner, 1-1 in the 42nd minute.

Three minutes later, with Emer Lucey now in the bin for another green, a hit out was fumbled and Jacob nipped in to take the loose ball a metre outside the circle and reversed over the out-rushing Grace O’Flanagan.

Another 60 seconds later, Jacob raced down the right wing and squared for Horan to finish off, 3-1 with 24 minutes to go.

It left plenty of time for response but Railway’s game looked hurried, despite camping in the Hermes 25. Their chances were mainly corners, none of which were converted and Hermes held out with an element of ease.

Railway Union: Grace O’Flanagan, Isobel Joyce (capt), Kate Dillon, Holly Jenkinson, Sinead Walsh, Jean McDonnell, Emma Smyth, Emer Lucey, Sinead Dooley, Alex Speers, Orla Fox
Subs: Karen Clarke, Cecelia Joyce, Eimear Dolan, Jeamie Deacon, Zara Delany
Hermes: Emma Gray, Lisa Jacob, Sarah Greene, Sinead McCarthy, Kerry McComish, Audrey O’Flynn, Jenny Burke, Sinead Connery, Christine Quinlan, Aine Connery, Anna O’Flanagan
Subs: Eimear Horan, Emma Russell, Laura Pinder, Katie Codyre, Aoife McCarthy

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