ESB Electric Ireland Women’s Irish Hockey League final
Pegasus 4 (Suzanne Beaney 3, Kate McConnell) Hermes 1 (Sinead McCarthy)
Suzanne Beaney’s superb hat-trick signed off on a remarkable double – the first since 2007 – as Pegasus powered their way to the ESB Electric Ireland Irish Hockey league title.
It added to the Irish Senior Cup they won a fortnight ago, Hermes again the victims, as the Belfast side made light of losing their Ulster Premier League crown for the first time in 14 years on Thursday night.
Skipper Arlene Boyles – the most decorated player in Irish club history along with team-mate Claire McMahon – brushed away that disappointment, saying: “I’d rather have an Irish cup and IHL than having a 14th Ulster league title.”
And she got her wish in spades, as her side dominated virtually throughout, suffering just a brief blip at the start of the second half when Hermes threatened to make a game of it, Sinead McCarthy nicking back a goal. But Pegasus were already 2-0 up at that point, both coming from defensive errors from free outs.
Beaney profited for the first, Vanessa Surgeoner’s hassling on the left-wing causing the initial error. And Beaney joined her in pursuit before bounding and bouncing past two defenders before throttling the airborne ball into the corner at pace.
Then Michelle Harvey took up Kate McConnell’s easily earned free and the latter was not tracked as ran into the circle and picked up a return pass, finishing neatly at the near post in the 16th minute.
By way of response, Hermes did have two opportunities of note. Eimear Horan’s reverse requiring a watchful pad from Sharon Moffett while Emma Russell swept first time into the sideboard – both when space was found on the left of the circle.
And they got back into the game at the same stage which saw them prosper against Railway in the semi-final, the period just after the half-time interval.
Lisa Jacob was the leader from the front-line while McCarthy burst out from the back in the 44th minute, fed left for Anna O’Flanagan who returned the favour to McCarthy who followed up well to touch in first time.
It was their purple patch but it was cut rudely short by yellow card suspensions to Eimear Horan (dissent) and Kerry McComish (playing the ball over shoulder-height). They did not concede while down to nine players but their momentum was stalled and Pegasus reasserted their will.
Beaney restored the two-goal lead in the 59th minute, again a virtuoso effort, emerging from a group of three markers, rounding the circle to the right and striking across Gray’s bows.
And she completed the victory with another stunning effort, Kirsty McCollum’s left-wing free bobbling her way and Beaney promptly smacked it in.
It was quite the show of force from the former international who made her last appearance in the Irish jersey back in 2006 though she never formally retired, according to RTE and UTV reporters.
She ended the competition as the leading scorer with 11 goals and was later named the player of the tournament, becoming the first recipient of the Jimmy O’Connor Memorial Cup. Earlier in the weekend, Beaney netted one in the semi-final against UCD while her assist was instrumental to Claire McMahon’s tap-in.
Pegasus now take the primary European slot for 2011/12 while Hermes, by virtue of Pegs’ double, take up the second spot with the level of competition they compete at to be decided based on later results.
Hermes: Emma Gray, Lisa Jacob (capt), 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, Aoife McCarthy, Katie Codyre, Laura Pinder
Pegasus: Sharon Moffett, Kirsty McCollum, Claire McMahon, Suzanne Beaney, Kate McConnell, Arlene Boyles (capt), Grace Irwin, Michelle Harvey, Pamela Glass, Stephanie Quinn, Vanessa
Subs: Jessica Perry (GK), Shelley Sloan, Ellen Hood, Amy Cooke, Kerry Harvey
** More videos, taken by Tristan Seaton-Stedham, from the IHL final have been uploaded here
** To read back on the minute-by-minute coverage of the final provided by The Hook, click here