Women’s Leinster Division One
Loreto 3 (Nikki McConnell, Sarah McLoughlin, Lauren O’Leary) Hermes 0
Loreto ended Hermes’ long winning run in the Leinster league, dating back to day one of the season, marking a big moment in the title race and also in the Beaufort’s push for an IHL spot on Sunday.
They had the clinical edge in a very entertaining tie with plenty of good quality hockey, particularly from the international players. Loreto’s defence was solid and difficult for Hermes to break down while their midfield of Lizzie Colvin, Nicci Daly and Niamh Small were generally on top.
For the visitors, Hermes were dangerous on the break with the pace of Aisling Naughton and Sinead Loughran testing Loreto throughout while Aine Connery broke forward from midfield with menace, often beating two and three players.
Loreto got the perfect start when Nikki McConnell intercepted a defender’s back-pass after six minutes and put away a reverse strike of some quality, giving Emma Gray no chance.
With 20 minutes on the clock, Loreto were 2-0 up when Sarah O’Loughlan, the young St Gerard’s hero of the school’s semi-final on Friday, picked up a good pass from Sarah Evans and deceived the goalkeeper by putting away from close-in despite the attention of two Hermes defenders.
Apart from the goals, other chances were at a premium with Loreto winning only one penalty corner in the first half which they failed to utilise. Hermes meanwhile failed to test the Loreto keeper until just before half-time when from a good one-on-one chance with Loreto keeper Ruth Murphy who cleared the danger well.
The second half started and finished with Hermes getting on the ball more and applying pressure. After this initial pressure, 10 minutes after the break, Loreto had their best spell when, firstly, McConnell was through with only the keeper to beat but Gray snuffed out the danger with some class defending.
That was followed up with a brilliant save by Gray from a thunderbolt shot from Hayley Mulcahy who was put through by a delicious pass from Nicci Daly whose pace and trickery were a real asset for Loreto.
Gray was also called upon to make a key save from Lauren O’Leary. O’Leary’s hard work in the circle finally paid off when she managed to get a touch in a crowded circle to a fine pass in from the right from Mulcahy following good approach work from Loreto captain Niamh Small.
Hermes’ sole penalty corner in the second half produced a fine strike which was saved off the line by Hannah Matthews.