Muckross and Gerard’s set up Leinster Cup final date

Muckross Park will meet St Gerard’s in the Leinster Schoolgirls Senior Cup final next Thursday following their dramatic wins over Wesley College and Loreto Foxrock, respectively.

They were two supremely close ties with precious little between the sides with defences on top for the most part.

Muckross looked down and out in their tie with two minutes to go before Aoife Flynn was credited with a late equaliser to draw their game 1-1 in normal time before prevailing in a shoot out.

The Marlborough Road side shaded the early exchanges with Aoife Flynn showing plenty of spark in the forward line while Rachel Cuddy had plenty of bite in midfield.

Lelia O’Byrne won a corner that Wesley charged down – Maebh Browne getting the block – before the game settled into a pattern mostly between the 23 metre lines.

Muckross celebrate winning their shoot-out against Wesley College. Pic: Adrian Boehm

That was until late in the half when the Ballinteer side pushed on with Jodie Douglas and Leah Paul providing the impetus. Their best move was initially booted away by Ava Russell toward the left corner.

But Jessica McGrane picked up the ball and returned it with interest with a brilliant reverse-stick cross for Madeline Fitzgerald to guided home in the 26th minute for the lead.

It lit the touch-paper and Muckross responded with a swift attack from tip-off, Isabelle Maleady ending up with a shot bouncing off the base of the post.

McGrane and Fitzgerald, then, almost combined for a second in the same roles of creator and shooter but Russell got down well to smother the second phase chance.

The second half was similarly cagey with Wesley looking the more likely to grab the winner. And they could have sealed the deal with four minutes to go from a corner with Fitzgerald denied from a rebound at close quarters.

Muckross, though, summoned a late attack with Sophie Maleady driving into the circle where her shot ricocheted to the glut of players in the centre. Cuddy got a touch that spun between Victoria Brooks and the last defender with Flynn on hand to make doubly sure on the line.

Goalkeeper Russell took over in the shoot-out, saving twice with an out-stretched stick for a 4-3 success.

Earlier in the day, Lucy Warde scored the only goal for St Gerard’s as they stunned Loreto Foxrock 1-0 with the only goal a first time deflection midway through the second half.

Foxrock, with Hannah McLoughlin to the fore, held much of the ball but could not make the most of five penalty corners as Gerard’s defenders Lara Burke, Eleanor Dunne and Robyn Murray produced a series of key interventions.

Caitlin Sheerin and Doireann Shaffrey kept Foxrock ticking while their closest effort cam when Siofra O’Brien’s excellent backhand pass just eluded a touch at the back post.

The Bray school, though, held on to advance to the final. It represents a massive turnaround from the league season when they finished fifth in Section B, a group which Foxrock ended second.

Muckross were fourth in that group and will hope to finish out ahead once more when the sides meet again next Thursday.

Leinster Schoolgirls Senior Cup, semi-finals: St Gerard’s 1 (L Warde) Loreto Foxrock 0; Muckross Park 1 (A Flynn) Wesley College 1 (M Fitzgerald), Muckross won 4-3 in a shoot-out

St Gerard’s following their 1-0 win over Loreto Foxrock. Pic: Adrian Boehm

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