O’Flanagan and Hermes show firepower to fulfil their EYHL destiny

Women’s EY Hockey League Champions Trophy final
Hermes 3 (A O’Flanagan 2, N Evans) Pegasus 1 (T Doherty)

The inaugural women’s EY Hockey League season reached its logical conclusion as a pumped up Hermes, revved by Anna O’Flanagan, had too much fire-power for Pegasus at Havelock Park.

She struck in the first 10 minutes and while the reigning national champions were often a threat, they did not have the star quality that the Dubliners had in abundance.

Taite Doherty pulled one back midway through the second half but a suitably classy Nikki Evans goal, created by Sinead Loughran’s clever reverse strike to the right post killed off the game with four minutes to go.

It was Hermes first all-Ireland crown since 2008, ending a long wait but they were more than good value for the trophy after a breathtaking league campaign – heading the table by 12 points – laid the base for this victory.

Prior to the finals weekend, Hermes coach Rudi Wortmann was worried the knock-out nature of the competition may deny his side what he felt was a deserved overall title.

He needn’t have worried as they blitzed Irish Senior Cup winners Ulster Elks in Saturday’s semi-final 6-3 thanks to doubles from Carroll and O’Flanagan. Pegasus were 2-0 winners over Railway Union in a much tighter fixture and they started in rude health in the final, winning four corner in the first phases.

Nikki Evans sees a shot blocked by Steph Thompson. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Vanessa Surgeoner went Nikki Evans sees a shot blocked by Steph Thompson. Pic: Adrian Boehm

i ncredibly close to the first goal, volleying just wide when she caught a flying ball in the circle.

It led to a series of four quick-fire corners for Pegasus but Emma Gray – later named Goalkeeper of the Tournament – and her defence kept each of them out.

And, from Hermes’ first attack, they went up the pitch and nabbed the opening goal in the seventh minute, locating O’Flanagan on the left edge of the circle and she pumped the ball past Sammy-Jo Greer.

Only a couple of minutes later, the striker was through again with Eimear Horan feeding a great ball into her path before she unleashed another cracking shot for 2-0.

Suzanne Kelly takes on Hannah Grieve. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Suzanne Kelly takes on Hannah Grieve. Pic: Adrian Boehm

There were fraught moments as Pegasus pushed on at regular intervals with Gray doing brilliantly to smother from Taite Doherty to retain the 2-0 lead into the half-time break.

She also kept out Hannah Grieve’s sweep shot with an out-stretched boot. Doherty did get one by her in the 38th minute when Alex Speers broke free on the left and slipped the ball under her arm to the forward who avoided one tackle and finished at close quarters.

Pegasus were in the ascendancy in that third quarter but their momentum was stymied when Steph Thompson – a powerhouse in the semi-final – was shown a yellow for a foul on Carroll who made an excellent turn and run.

It helped Hermes to completely control the closing ten minutes and their clinching goal came in the 51st minute, a classily conceived effort from a free outisde the 23m zone.

Sinead Loughran picked up the ball on the left with space to shoot but she angled it to the back post where Nikki Evans was in situ to deflect in for 3-1.

Anna O'Flanagan celebrates one of her early goals. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Anna O’Flanagan celebrates one of her early goals. Pic: Adrian Boehm

The Dubliners closed out the win with the minimum of fuss and Hermes had their ninth all-Ireland trophy, following four wins in the Irish Senior Cup and four in the old Club Championships.

It is also their last in this current guise as they make the transition to Hermes-Monkstown next year following confirmation of their merger in the last week.

Pegasus: S-J Greer, H Grieve, R Maguire, H McMillan, S Ferris, K McConnell, A Speers, G Irwin, P Glass, S Thompson, V Surgeoner
Subs: C Harvey, T Doherty, N Pinkerton, R Henderson, K Morris, M Bowyer, S Moffett

Hermes: E Gray, S Greene, N Carroll, N Evans, C Watkins, E Horan, C Quinlan, E Curran, A Barnwell, S Kelly, A O’Flanagan
Subs: C McGilp, R Carrigan, L McInerney, S Campbell, S Patton, S Loughran, E Murphy

Umpires: A Keogh, F Davitt

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