IHL Wildcard Playoff final
UCC 0 Old Alex 3 (Shirley McCay, Aisling Naughton, Sofie McLeod)
Old Alex confirmed they will be back in the Irish Hockey League in 2014 as they pulled away from UCC in Garryduff last Saturday to claim the 12th and final berth in the competition.
With Connacht given an automatic IHL berth this year rather than solely having the wildcard playoff option at their disposal, it meant 11 sides had qualified through their domestic leagues with four sides playing off for one final IHL spot.
UCC and Alex saw off Galway and the Ulster Elks respectively to earn this final showdown and it was a very tight-knit first half in Cork. Alex started slightly the stronger before the students enjoyed a purple patch, carving out three corner opportunities which Pamela Smithwick, Sarah Robinson and Sarah Canning did well to defend.
Shirley McCay, though, has shown her value in the latter stages of the campaign after returning from her travels and scored with a dynamic bit of work from the 25 before scoring on her reverse with another key goal.
Two more UCC corners were defended on half-time while the second half started in a similar vein, the students winning corners but were unable to find the clear sight of goal.
Aisling Naughton, again on the backhand, applied a similarly spectacular finish in the second half in a rare appearance for the club this term due to her University of Michigan commitments.
Sofie McLeod found here with a long pass from halfway, putting the speedster in with a defender to beat. She used her pace to escape the defender before unleashing a rasping shot.
Canning was required to clear another corner effort off the line before McLeod copper-fastened the win to see them finish the campaign on a high, receiving the ball on the p-spot, trapping dead before slotting home.
The win sees Alex join Leinster quartet UCD, Railway Union, Loreto and Hermes in the competition in 2014, their young side closing out the campaign with five successive wins against high quality opposition to give the side something to work on for next term.