Five of the six Leinster women’s sides came through unscathed from the initial round of the Electric Ireland Irish Senior Cup with Loreto, Old Alex, Railway Union, Corinthian and Hermes all progressing.
Of the fancied sides, Loreto were pushed the hardest by a lively Queen’s who made much of the early running at Beaufort before the hosts found their feet.
Four corners in the early phases drew a string of saves from Jessie Elliott as Hannah McMillan was proving too difficult to tame a Queen’s initially made light of the absence of Rachel Mulligan.
But Loreto slowly turned the screw and they profited from a hotly contested corner with Sarah Clarke smashing home down for a 20th minute lead. From there, they Dublin side settled with the diminutive Ali Meeke showing some nice turns while Nikki Keegan was a dangerous presence, too.
Queen’s still had a threat but the game was settled in one busy minute when the students had a huge chance skip over the bar from close range. From the ensuing counter, Loreto won another corner which Cathy McKean rebounded for 2-0. Claire Buchanan got one back in the final minute but too late to pull off a surprise result.
It puts them through to a mouth-watering second round date with Railway Union who put in their best shift of the season to date to obliterate Cork Harlequins 6-0. They were 4-0 up at the half-time interval with Irish skipper Alex Speers on the mark twice while Kate Lloyd’s second a penalty stroke from Sinead Dooley completed the rout.
The result has set up a hotly-anticipated second round tie for Railway against Loreto in a repeat of last season’s Irish Hockey League final.
A goal in each half sufficed for Hermes with Christine Quinlan on the mark in the 30th minute against Randalstown and Sinead McCarthy snapped up a second to close out the victory 15 minutes into the second half. They now travel to the Orchard County to Ulster basement side Armagh who overcame near neighbours Lurgan 4-3 after extra time.
Corinthian took the spoils in Galway in Greenfields first ever Irish Senior tie as Aine Connery made her impact felt for the reds while Carol McGowan was the goalscoring heroine, netting both goals in a 2-1 win. They were rewarded with a trip to Pembroke in the second round of the competition.
Old Alex dismissed Portadown as they recovered from an early deficit to run up a 5-2 result. Erika Hinkson’s drag tied things up before Emma Duncan finished off a one-on-one and Sofie McLeod made it 3-1 as she got on the end of a right-wing cross.
Portadown did pull one back but another McLeod goal – this time on her reverse – and an effort from Anna Roopnarinesingh made the tie safe, Alex winning out 5-2. In another enticing all-Leinster draw, Alex will next face reigning champions UCD.
Glenanne were the one side to fall from the competition, undone by the Ulster Elks in the first round of the competition. Rachel King put them ahead inside three minutes but the Tallaght side applied plenty of pressure in the remainder of the half to try and get back on terms.
They were rocked on their heels, though, when Danielle Wilson hit home a second from a penalty corner after the interval to make it an insurmountable task.
In another all-Ulster tie, Victorians were crushed 8-2 by Ards to complete the line-up for the second round draw, one which next pits them against the Ulster Elks.
In that draw, UCC will meet Trinity in what will be both sides first game of the competition having both received byes as did Catholic Institute and Pegasus – the reigning Ulster and Munster champions who will showdown at Rosbrien. Ballymoney meet North Kildare at the Joey Dunlop Centre with all of those games taking place on November 24.
** More photos from Rowland White/PressEye can be seen here
Electric Ireland Women’s Irish Senior Cup, first round results: Loreto 2 (Sarah Clarke, Cathy McKean) Queen’s 1 (Claire Buchanan); Armagh 4 Lurgan 3 after extra time; Old Alex 5 (Sofie McLeod 2, Emma Duncan, Erika Hinkson, Anna Roopnarinesingh) Portadown 2 (own goal, AN Other); Cork Harlequins 0 Railway Union 6 (Kate Lloyd 2, Alex Speers 2, Zara Delany, Sinead Dooley); Hermes 2 (Christine Quinlan, Sinead McCarthy) Randalstown 0; Ulster Elks 2 (Rachel King, Danielle Wilson) Glenanne 1; Greenfields 1 Corinthian 2 (Carol McGowan 2); Victorians 2 Ards 8
Round Two draw: Ards vs Ulster Elks; Armagh vs Hermes; Ballymoney vs North Kildare; Catholic Institute vs Pegasus; Loreto vs Railway Union; Old Alex vs UCD; Pembroke vs Corinthian; UCC vs Trinity