High School produce stunning comeback to land maiden Senior Premier League crown

Leinster Schoolgirls Senior Premier League final
The High School, Rathgar 2 (C Chrislte, A Long) St Gerard’s 2 (L Tice, S McCarthy), High School win 3-1 on penalties

High School produced an ice cool series of penalties to land their first Leinster Schoolgirls Senior League title, storming back from two goals down to deny St Gerard’s at Grange Road, played out into a bumper crowd of over a 1,000.

It came at the end of a pulsating final that saw the pendulum of momentum swing hugely between the teams as Gerard’s dominated early on before High School roared back into conention to carry the day.

The St Gerard's fans look on in anticipation Pic: Adrian Boehm

The St Gerard’s fans look on in anticipation Pic: Adrian Boehm

Lena Tice – an Irish cricket international – and Sadbhbh McCarthy had given Gerard’s a well-deserved 2-0 lead in the opening 18 minutes. Tice’s distribution from the back, allied to the jinking runs of Susie Cannon and Sarah O’Loughlin were features throughout.

For the most part, they kept High School at bay well outside their 22 with Tice, Deanna Kissane and McCarthy making some big tackles. Ruby Neville fired one across the face of goal, too, which went close to adding another.

But Camille Christle nicked a close range goal for High School from a rare break-out to give them a lifeline before half-time, battling through a couple of soft tackles before poking home to reduce the gap to 2-1 at the break.

From there, though, the Rathgar side went on to boss the second half. Player of the match Ailish Long, employed at centre forward, and Mia Jennings down the right, used their pace to terrorise the Gerard’s defence.

Mia Jennings, Saoirse O'Donoghue and Ailish Long celebrate their winning penalty Pic: Adrian Boehm

Mia Jennings, Saoirse O’Donoghue and Ailish Long celebrate their winning penalty Pic: Adrian Boehm

They ran up a massive penalty corner count but it looked like the result might escape them as 11 set pieces were spurned with Saoirse O’Donoghue whizzing a couple of shots inches wide while Lucy Ashmore produced a couple of excellent saves amid some serious scramble-defence.

From the 12th, though, Emma Canning’s shot from the left of the circle took a wicked deflection from Long past Ashmore’s right arm to nab an equaliser with six minutes of normal time to go, a perfectly timed redirection which left the goalkeeper no chance.

They continued to push on for the remainder of the tie as well as the two periods of silver goal extra time but nothing further accrued.

High School celebrate their first ever Senior Premier League win Pic: Adrian Boehm

High School celebrate their first ever Senior Premier League win Pic: Adrian Boehm

High School did keep the momentum going into the shoot-out with Saoirse O’Donoghue, Long and Jennings all nailing their efforts, while Gerard’s stumbled, to become the seventh different winner of the Premier League in the past 12 years.

High School: C Harrison, H Carrim, M Jennings, L Barlow, R Delaney, A Long, A Byrne, E Conheady, R Keating, S O’Donoghue, E McCullough, E Canning, C Christle, E Ridgeway, S O’Brien, M O’Donovan

St Gerard’s: L Ashmore, D Kissane, P O’Reilly, L Tice, E Keating, S McCarthy, O Flanagan, L Finnerty, S Cannon, M O’Neill, J Courtney, S O’Loughlin, E Collins, M Cullen, R Neville, L Warde, C McCabe, A Byrne

Umpires: Gillian Garrett, Carol Metchette

School Girls Premier Section A