Knock-out season is upon the Leinster schoolgirl season at senior level with the Premier League semi-finals on Friday afternoon while the Senior Cup is bubbling along.
Wesley College and Muckross Park raise the curtain at 12pm in the opening final four encounter before St Andrew’s and Mount Anville meet at this stage for the second successive season at 2pm with the latter having edged a thriller 1-0 a year ago.
For Anville, they were the last side to copper-fasten their place in the playoffs just before Christmas. For long periods, Loreto Foxrock looked the side to beat but a 1-0 loss to their neighbours from Goatstown left them needing something from their final group game against Wesley.
Again, they came unstuck as Aisling Ellis and Jessica McGrane netted for Wes in a 2-1, putting them through to the semis. Mount Anville were left needing a result of any kind against High School and they duly obliged with a 5-0 scoreline.
Anville’s is a line-up built around speed with the forward trio of schools sprint star Niamh Gowing, Natasha Twomey and Julie Ringrose a highlight.
Andrew’s – unbeaten with six wins from seven to date – are probably the favourites, however, with an excellent goalkeeper in Iseult Cambay, Amy Elliott at the back and further Leinster representatives in Katie Jane Marshall, Robyn and Gaby Lewis, Kate Orr and Martha McCready.
In the other tie, Muckross have the know-how with plenty of returnees from the 2017 Senior Cup winning side. They are also yet to be beaten, winning five and drawing two of their games in the group phase.
They closed out qualification with a 1-0 win over Loreto Beaufort with their defence showing typical meanness.
Wesley have a similar record and, in captain McGrane, have one of the competition’s most ferocious forwards, making this an intriguing battle.
In the Senior Cup, meanwhile, a number of big guns have already fallen by the wayside in an unforgiving open draw.
St Gerard’s Robyn Murray’s single goal from a penalty corner did for Alexandra College in their first round clash while Loreto Dalkey were beaten 2-0 by Andrew’s – Robyn Lewis and Kate Orr on target.
It means two fancied sides are out and another will go when Loreto Foxrock and Wesley’s tie – postponed due to frost – finally gets played.
— St.Gerard'sSenSports (@StGS_SenSport) December 20, 2017
The second round draw will see further high profile casualties with High School drawn against reigning champions Muckross Park and Andrew’s tricky run sees them host Loreto Beaufort.
As such, opportunity knocks for some of the smaller schools. For Churchtown’s Notre Dame, they enjoyed the opening round of one of their last ever Senior Cup runs, beating St Kilian’s 3-0. The school is set to close its doors in 2019.
On the flip side, Sandford Park will play their first ever girls Senior Cup match on Friday when they take on Mount Temple. The Ranelagh outfit was an all-boys school before going co-ed a couple of years ago and are taking on the Senior Cup after a couple of wins in the Senior 1B league.
Leinster Senior Cup first round: St Columba’s 0 Loreto Beaufort 2; Alexandra College 0 St Gerard’s 1 (R Murray); Skerries CC 0 Rathdown 4; Teresians 0 Mount Anville 7; Holy Faith Clontarf 1 St Raphaela’s 2 (S Boyle, S Hennigan); Loreto Dalkey 0 St Andrews 2 (Robyn Lewis, Kate Orr); St Kilians 0 Notre Dame 3; Holy Child Killiney 1 Santa Sabina 2; High School 5 Loreto St Stephen’s Green 3
Awaiting results: Newbridge v The King’s Hospital; Newpark v St Joseph’s Cluny
January 12: Sandford Park v Mount Temple
Postponed due to frost: Loreto Foxrock v Wesley
Byes: Muckross Park; Mount Sackville; Our Lady’s Terenure
Second round: St Joseph’s Cluny v Mount Sackville; Mount Anville v Notre Dame; Rathdown v St Gerards; High School v Muckross Park; Santa Sabina v Sandford Park/Mount Temple; Our Lady’s Terenure v Newbridge College; St Andrew’s v Loreto Beaufort; Loreto Foxrock/Wesley v St Raphaela’s