Alex paint Grange Road red with thrilling Senior Cup success

Leinster Schoolgirls Senior Cup final
Alexandra College 4 (I Delamar, K Egan, H O’Connor, S Roopnarinesingh) St Gerard’s 2 (E Moroney, S McCarthy)

Alexandra College won a breathless Leinster Schoolgirls Senior Cup final 4-2, seeing off reigning champions St Gerard’s to claim the title for the third time in the last five years.

Indeed, they are now the most successful school in the competition’s history, winning the title for a 13th title in its 99 year history. It was a final of real colour and excitement, played out in front of close to 2,000 supporters at Grange Road with the balcony, flagpoles and much of the fencing adorned with the respective bunting and banners of the respective teams.

For Alex, it was the double but they were pushed all the way. It was level at half-time as Eva Moroney breached the Milltown school’s defences for the first time in 10 games, cancelling out Isy Delamar’s thunderous opening goal.

But two goals in quick succession after the break were the making and breaking of the tie as Katherine Egan provided a similar amount of power to Delamar for 2-1. Habika O’Connor then turned in the third.

The reigning champions from Bray were back in the mix with four minutes to go when Sadhbh McCarthy redircted a Lena Tice shot into the top corner.

But O’Connor and Sophie Roopnarinesingh responded in brilliant fashion, exchanging passes direct from the tip off. The latter finished off the move to restore a crucial two-goal advantage to get over the line and confirm their place in next month’s Kate Russell All-Ireland championships.

Lena Tice attempts to tackle Alex's Freya McDermott. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Lena Tice attempts to tackle Alex’s Freya McDermott. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Ruby Neville hit the post soon after as Alex rocked a little bit but were ultimately well clear to win back the provincial crown.

It was a thriller from the start. Freya McDermott’s interception almost unlocked the door in the very early stages, exchanging passes with Roopnarinesingh but Niamh Longstaff shut down the chance superbly.

Lena Tice found herself double-teamed when she looked to push forward out of defence but, while she was well marshalled for the most part, her sublime individual skills led to a first Gerard’s corner. It trap was not stopped, however, and the chance went.

The Alex fans at half-time. Picture: Adrian Boehm

The Alex fans at half-time. Picture: Adrian Boehm

Alex hit the front in the 20th minute. Gerard’s had survived the first wave of the attack with the ball spewed out of defence only as far as Delamar. Picking up the ball from the 23m line, she wound up her shot well outside the circle before striking a supremely clean hit into the bottom corner from the very edge for 1-0.

Abi Acheson came within inches of making it two a minute later but her angled shot from the left squeezed past the right post as her side enjoyed a purple patch.

Gerard’s, though, had other plans and were back on terms just before the break. Delamar had batted away their second corner off the line but the follow-up attack saw skipper Sarah O’Loughlin flash the ball across goal and Moroney got the pivotal touch for 1-1.

Alex celebrate on the final whistle. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Alex celebrate on the final whistle. Pic: Adrian Boehm

The turning point came around the 38 minute mark as Alex scored twice in immediate succession. From Alex’s fourth corner, Gerard’s charged down McDermott’s powerful sweep but Egan, who had been the stopper, retrieved the ball and applied a brilliant arrow into the bottom left corner with another incredibly powerful hit.

Moments later, O’Connor made it 3-1when she tapped in at the left post for an imposing lead with just over 20 minutes to go. Gerard’s were reeling for a time before summoning their comeback.

O’Loughlin’s steal momentarily gave her side a three-on-one chance but Emily Murphy covered brilliantly to clear the danger. The deficit was reduced to one when Tice picked the ball up in the circle and while her shot was not the cleanest it went high into McCarthy’s air-space to get the all-important touch.

That was with four minutes to go but O’Connor and Roopnarinesingh quickly put paid to their comeback hopes and the title was heading the short distance to Millstown.

The St Gerard's team. Pic: Adrian Boehm

The St Gerard’s team. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Alex now join Limerick’s Crescent College, Galway’s Salerno and Loreto, Kilkenny in the All-Irelands with Ulster’s champions to be confirmed. The northern representative will be either Sullivan Upper or Methody who meet in the Ulster final on March 2.

Earlier on, St Columba’s won the Senior 1 title. Hollie Canning opened the scoring in the first half before a double from Kitty Morris and one from Sophia Cole in the second half saw them beat Santa Sabina.

Newpark were Minor 1 winners thanks to a 3-1 win in a shoot-out against Our Lady’s, Terenure after normal time had ended 0-0.

Alexandra College:
C Nugent, E Murphy, I Delamar, I O’Brien, A Beatty, F McDermott, K Egan, C Harrison, H O’Connor, S Roopnarinesingh, J Cleary
Subs: R Kennedy, C Coyne, S Lavelle, A Barton, A Acheson

St Gerard’s:
N Longstaff, E Dunne, P O’Reilly, L Tice, H Gallagher, S McCarthy, E Moroney, S O’Loughlin, E Collins, L Warde, R Neville
Subs: L Gelletlie, L Geraghty, M O’Toole, R Cullen, E Clinton, L Delaney, R Murray, P Norwood, M Cullen,

Umpires: C Metchette, J Pearson

Alexandra College with the Senior Cup. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Alexandra College with the Senior Cup. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Partners of The Hook