Pegasus smash and grab their second women’s IHL title as Loreto rue missed chances

Women’s Irish Hockey League final
Pegasus 1 (S Ferris) Loreto 1 (A Meeke); Pegasus win 4-2 on a shoot-out

Pegasus snatched their second Irish Hockey League title from Loreto’s grasp as their cool heads in the shoot-out and defensive resilience saw them win out at Grange Road.

Had it been decided on points, Loreto would have won at a canter but their inability to make chances stick cost them dearly in a tie they bossed for long periods.

Indeed, coach Arlene Boyles said as much afterwards but said she was delighted with how a young side, featuring nine players who had never played in a national final before, coped with the situation.

“I am immensely proud of every one of them. It was a bit of a smash and grab act and Loreto will probably feel a bit aggrieved that they didn’t win it in normal time but we were due a bit of luck.

“You have to take your chances and they didn’t do that; we managed to hang on until the last quarter and I knew then that we still had a chance of getting the goal we needed.”

To that end, Natalie Pinkerton and Hannah Grieve were superb in defence while goalkeeper of the tournament Ayeisha McFerran was unbeatable between the posts. Steph Quinn was a dynamo in midfield while Alex Speers showed her experience – having won the title previously with Railway Union, too – down the final stretch.

It meant the good approach work of Nicci Daly and Hayley Mulcahy went without reward for the most part. An early penalty corner was upgraded to a stroke for a deliberate back-stick but defensive lynch-pin, so often Loreto’s key player, Hannah Matthews saw her shot tipped onto the post by McFerran.

Matthews did play a key role in the Dubliners’ goal three minutes into the second half, applying the power for Ali Meeke to deflect into the roof of the net.

But Pegasus hung tough and took one of their rare chances when they stole ball high up the pitch, getting it to Speers on the right baseline. She picked out the experienced Suzanne Ferris to pop home from close range for the equaliser.

It came in the 62nd minute, the same time that Surgeoner had struck the winner in Saturday’s 2-1 semi-final victory against reigning champions UCD.

Once again, Loreto had their chances to win the game in normal time with a couple of penalty corners in the last minute and also in silver goal extra time.

Pegasus held on, leading to a shoot-out in which the Ulster side had the advantage from the start as Niamh Small rolled wide and Matthews dinged the crossbar. Pegasus scored all four of their shoot-outs to eventually win back the title they last won in 2011.

Pegasus celebrate the winning shoot-out goal from Robyn Chambers. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Pegasus celebrate the winning shoot-out goal from Robyn Chambers. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Boyles added that the shoot-out exceeded all expectations with her team’s goalkeeper reworking her World League 2 heroics: “We managed to score all four of our penalties meaning that Loreto didn’t get to take a fifth but I can tell you ours didn’t go any where nearly as well as that in training!

“But Ayeisha (McFerran) is going to be world class and she certainly displayed those sort of credentials over the course of the two games.”

Pegasus will represent Ireland in the top tier in Europe next season as a result while Loreto will work now to try and get themselves into the expanded Irish Hockey League having missed out on a place in the inaugural event.

Pegasus: A McFerran, H Grieve, N Graham, R Maguire, N Pinkerton, S Ferris, K McConnell, A Speers, G Irwin, S Quinn, V Surgeoner
Subs: T Doherty, R Chambers, R Campbell, A Jones, L Paul, K Harvey

Loreto: R Murphy, A Meeke, S McGirr, H Mulcahy, N McConnell, N Daly, L Tice, J McGirr, N Small, L Colvin, H Matthews
Subs: S O’Loughlin, S Evans, C Baker, L O’Leary, B Biggam, L Delany

Umpires: C Metchette, A Keogh

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