Women’s Irish Senior Cup final
Ulster Elks 1 (A Curran) Hermes 0
Aine Curran’s delightful 30th minute goal propelled the Ulster Elks to a maiden women’s Irish Senior Cup title at Belfield, ending Hermes’ hopes of an incredible quadruple this term.
The Elks had only once previously reached the final – in their former guise of the Ulster College of Physical Education in 1971 – but were good value for the title against more established opponents.
Irish skipper Megan Frazer led the charge, first from centre forward before dropping into midfield once the lead had been taken. For Ireland, she usually operates from sweeper but she was freed to take on the more advanced role by the return of Stephanie Jameson, Canada’s most capped player, who made one of her first appearances of 2015 for the club.
Frazer was duly the boss of the first half, terrorising the Hermes defence at the head of a full press and drew some stunning blocks from Emma Gray with Jameson also testing the Irish number one.
In addition, her side ran up six first half penalty corners before taking the lead on the half hour when Elks’ other international Shirley McCay pumped in a left wing cross. It bounced up for former UCC woman Aine Curran who controlled in mid-air before volleying home on her reverse.
With Gemma Frazer keeping things moving in midfield and Dawn Axon showing some neat moves around the edge of the circle, the Elks pinned the Booterstown side in their own half.
For Hermes part, Christine Quinlan was excellent at base of defence, mopping up numerous attacks but they were unable to get the requisite momentum going forward bar one spell of four penalty corners within a two-minute spell.
Elks continued to press forward in a slightly staccato second half. Their corner count eventually ran up to 11 – there were a massive 17 in total but proved ineffective. Gray stopped everything else that came her way with McCay and Gemma Frazer having the pick of the chances.
It left them susceptible to a sucker-punch and that almost came three minutes from time when Caitriona McGilp’s snap shot shaved the outside of the post. They also had a couple of corners closed down but they were fleeting moments as the Elks deservedly took down their first title.
For Hermes, they now look to the Irish Hockey League semi-finals in a fortnight’s time which they will hope to add to the Leinster league and Jacqui Potter Cup crown.
Ulster Elks: R Davidson, S MacAuley, S Jameson, D Wilson, L Brown, G Frazer, K Lammey, M Frazer, L McAlpine, A Curran, S McCay
Subs: D Axon, L Wright, L Neish, J McMaster, D McNally
Hermes: E Gray, S Willis, S Loughran, R Carrigan, M Tennant-Humphreys, A Naughton., E Horan, A Connery, C Quinlan, S Kelly, S Patton
Subs: C McGilp, K McComish, A Harte, L Thomas, L Pinder