UCD ladies will finish in Ireland’s best position in the EuroHockey Club Champions Cup since Randalstown in 1995 no matter what the outcome of their tie with English champions Surbiton on Monday. That is because of a spectacular 3-2 win over Canterbury.
The result in Bilthoven, the Netherlands, saw UCD advance to the fifth place playoff, guaranteeing Ireland retain a place in the top tier of European club hockey for another season.
They had fallen behind just eight minutes in to Nikki Triggs’ field goal but Chloe Watkins levelled from close range before Emily Beatty’s cracking shot and a third from Deirdre Duke swapped things around to 3-1 at half-time.
Jen Wilson got one back for the English club but UCD held on for a famous win in what is hockey’s equilvalent of soccer’s Champions League, one later described as the biggest result in the club’s history.
Speaking about the victory, coach Jonathan Harte praised the ability of his side to dig in to get the result, particularly Sarah Robinson at the back.
“We had to guts it out in terms of defending in numbers, being under pressure as the opposition pressed us to get back to 3-3 in the last ten minutes.
“It is great for UCD and great for Irish hockey and hopefully all of Irish hockey can keep pushing on.”
On the men’s side, hopes of a first Irish man to win the Euro Hockey League came to an end on Saturday when Dutch side Kampong – featuring goalkeeper David Harte – and Belgium’s Dragons – with Kyle Good and Shane O’Donoghue bowed out at the KO8 stage.
EuroHockey Club Champions Cup (Bilthoven, the Netherlands)
Fifth-Eighth playoffs: UCD 3 (C Watkins, D Duke, E Beatty) Canterbury 2 (N Triggs, J Wilson); Surbiton 3 Izmaylovo Moscow 2
Fifth-Sixth playoff: UCD vs Surbiton, 10.15am (Irish time)