Women’s Leinster Division Two
Pembroke II finally crossed the mathematical threshold to claim women’s Leinster Division Two on Wednesday night at Grange Road as they swept to a 3-0 victory over Three Rock Ladies in a weather-affected refix.
After a blistering 12-game winning streak, the title always looked likely to head to Serpentine Avenue though they did delay finally landing it as a loss to Loreto II and a draw with Railway Union II put back the inevitable.Against Three Rock, Ciara Howard’s persistence on the baseline set up Shona Doyle for the first and Anna O’Neill made it 2-0 before Doyle closed out the win.
It meant Pembroke broke Loreto’s hold on the title for the past two years after a couple of runners-up finishes in the division. It meant coaching success for the team of Ronan Flannery and Patrick Good at the first attempt as a duo but the latter paid tribute to the foundations laid by one of predecessors.
“The foundations were laid last year by Mick O’Connor so I’d like to give him credit for that; they’ve been close to it now for a number of years,” Good said.
“For Ronan and I it was a case of not changing too much and just giving the girls the confidence to go out and play. They are a really committed, hard working, positive group who want to play at a high intensity. As a coach, you want to facilitate that and not get in the way too much.”
He adds that the strength in depth of the panel is a key factor, working from a strong panel of 20 with all used in each game, adding: “If you’re in the squad you’re trusted to do a job and do it well; that in itself helps create a great team atmosphere.”
While he talks about the team ethic, the side was bolstered by the arrival of former Loreto and Trinity number one Jessie Elliott who gave the side a strong presence between the posts. Jane Brownlee had a super season in midfield, a first port of call for ball going forward combined with a phenomenal engine.
Eimear McCarthy led the side from the back and popped up with some key strikes – notably two against Loreto II away – while Anna O’Neill’s sharp hands in front of goal and ability to hit the target provided most of the goals. Doyle provided the creative spark and youngsters Tara Junghenn and Joanna McDonnell have really developed this year, playing well at the right part of the season.
The key results on their wonder run came against Loreto and UCD away from home. Both ties could have gone either way but they took their breaks when they came to build an imposing lead which, despite some late season wobbles, scarcely looked like being eroded.“I think we went on a super run that built and built pre Christmas. That in itself brings its own pressures and challenges as people were saying that we had the league wrapped up for weeks and suddenly the wins dried up a bit and the last few points proved a little elusive. Thankfully we got them last night and I think the girls thoroughly deserve it for their efforts.”
Elsewhere in midweek, Hermes II moved into mid-table with a 3-1 win over Genesis. On Thursday night, Lauren Kingston’s double saw Old Alex II come from a goal behind to earn a 2-1 win over Loreto II and move five points clear of the relegation places with two rounds of games to go.
Wednesday, March 5: Three Rock Ladies 0 Pembroke II 3 (Shona Doyle 2, Anna O’Neill); Genesis 1 (Katy Tanham) Hermes II 3 (R Carrigan 2, S Brooks)
Thursday, March 6: Loreto II 1 Old Alex II 2 (Lauren Kingston 2)
Saturday, March 8: Pembroke II v Muckross, 12.30pm, Serpentine Avenue; Loreto II v Hermes II, 12.45pm, Beaufort; Trinity II v UCD II, 1pm, Wesley College; Three Rock Ladies v Genesis, 4pm, Grange Road
Sunday, March 9: Railway Union II v Old Alex II, 4pm, Park Avenue
Monday, March 10: UCD II v Muckross, 8.15pm, Belfield