Single goals from Katie Ronan and Katherine Egan were enough for Mount Anville and Alexandra College to advance to the Leinster Schoolgirls Senior Premier League final.
They both won 1-0 on Tuesday afternoon at Belfield, seeing off St Andrew’s and Loreto Foxrock respectively to reach the decider that is pencilled in for January 26 at Grange Road.
In the first semi, Ronan’s penalty stroke 51 seconds from the final whistle saw Anville claim their place. She remained calm to flick home from the spot after a titanic tussle saw underdogs Andrew’s absorb a wealth of pressure before succumbing at the death.
It came from Anville’s first penalty corner of the second half with Ronan’s goal-bound shot blocked illegally on the goal-line.
Prior to that, Iseult Cambay had been immaculate between the posts while Kate Orr and Katie Jane Marshall put in huge stints to deny the speed merchants Claudia Cotter and Niamh Gowing.
They earned four first half corners but Andrew’s grew in confidence with every attack they repelled. Indeed, they had their chance to snatch a lead on the counter-attack with a penalty corner of their own midway through the second half.
There was an anticipation it would be the key moment but Natasha Twomey charged down the shot.
It left the tie in the mix right until the final minute drama when Ronan provided the heroics. For Mount Anville, it also helped ease some of the memories of 2016; this week exactly a year ago they bowed out of both the league and cup but this year they remain very much alive and kicking.
In the second semi, Egan’s first half goal saw Alexandra College pile on the pain for Loreto Foxrock as, for the third time in succession, the Milltown outfit edged out their rivals by a single goal.
Alex were Foxrock’s nemesis in both the cup and league semi-final in the 2015/16 season on 1-0 scorelines and they mirrored that result once again.
This time around, in front of a large and vocal crowd in Belfield, it was the same story as Alex withstood a concerted second half avalanche of Foxrock attacks to get over the line.
Goalkeeper Caroline Nugent has been magnificent all season, conceding just twice in nine games now, as she kept her seventh clean sheet of the campaign.
They withstood all the drives forward from Hannah McLoughlin, Christina Hamill and Siofra O’Brien and took their chance when it came.
Issy Delamer and Jenny Mohan also made a couple of goal bound saves for Alex as they held on to their slender lead.
Egan, a Leinster Under-21 panelist, scored the goal midway through the first half following an attack up the right. She beat a couple of players in the 25 and made space for herself to shoot at the top of the D on her back stick.
It was their main chance of a half in which they also won a penalty corner. But the second half was backs to the wall stuff as they stayed just about organised enough to last the barrage.
They did have two chances on the counter to nick an insurance goal with Jan Cleary getting into the circle from right back while Egan saw another backhand shot denied.
Leinster Schoolgirl Premier League semi-finals: Mount Anville 1 (K Ronan) St Andrew’s 0; Alexandra College 1 (K Egan) Loreto Foxrock 0