Pegasus and Loreto both move within a step of a second IHL title with one-goal wins

Women’s Irish Hockey League semi-finals
Pegasus 2 (S Ferris, V Surgeoner) UCD 1 (K Mullan)

Vanessa Surgeoner’s 62nd minute penalty corner strike saw Pegasus end UCD’s reign as Irish Hockey League champions, scoring the odd goal in three in the first semi-final at Grange Road.

Pegasus celebrate Vanessa Surgeoner's winning goal. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Pegasus celebrate Vanessa Surgeoner’s winning goal. Pic: Adrian Boehm

She fired home direct from the top with a powerful hit for the game’s decisive moment while goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran’s fine game ensured the Ulster club stayed clear.

Early on, the students made much of the early running with Emily Beatty and Deirdre Duke causing plenty of consternation. McFerran, though, made a superb intervention when left with two attackers closing in to keep it level.

Suzanne Ferris then made it 1-0 on the half hour when she swept home first time from a right wing cross against the run of play. UCD replied quickly when Beatty was felled in the circle, allowing Katie Mullan to pot from the penalty spot for 1-1 at half-time.

The second half saw UCD again the side to make more of the chances but their attacks became more ragged while Pegasus managed to pick them off a couple of times. From one such attack, they earned the corner which Surgeoner thumped home from the top.

Her side duly held on for the remaining minutes to keep alive their hopes of winning the IHL for a second time, the last coming in 2011

Loreto 1 (N Small) Hermes 0
2009 champions Loreto moved a step closer to a second Irish Hockey League title as Niamh Small’s 57th minute goal proved enough to see off Hermes in the second semi-final.

Niamh Small and Ali Meeke celebrate. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Niamh Small and Ali Meeke celebrate. Pic: Adrian Boehm

It was created by Lena Tice and Lizzie Colvin, working the opening for the latter to smash in the crash ball which took a couple of ricochets with Small getting the the key touch to wrong-foot the excellent Emma Gray.

The Beaufort side had been the better side for much of a close-knit tie and went within inches of opening the scoring when Nikki McConnell’s upright reverse pinged over the underside of the crossbar.

That was the closest effort of the first half, one in which Loreto won the only corner too. Via that route, Jessica McGirr had a powerful shot deflected high but Gray was on hand to save brilliantly, keeping the scoreboard blank until three quarter time.

Then came Small’s goal, a moment that saw Hermes emerge from their shell. They duly went into all-out attack mode and had two massive chances to level things. The first was miscued by Sinead Loughran at close quarters from a corner rebound.

The next came inside the last 20 seconds as Hannah Matthews coolly plucked the ball off the line to clear and hand her side a final berth.

Women’s Irish Hockey League Final (Sunday, Grange Road): Pegasus vs Loreto, 1.30pm

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