Muckross and Mount Anville destined for Premier final decider

Leinster Schoolgirls Senior Premier League semi-finals
Wesley College 2 (L Pomeroy, A Ellis) Muckross Park 2 (I Maleady, L McGrane), Muckross win shoot-out 3-2
Muckross eventually took the first spot in the Leinster schoolgirls Senior Premier league final when Lelia O’Byrne slammed home a brilliant reverse-stick shot, ending a spectacular tie.

It came in the eighth round of a fraught shoot-out as Wesley fought back from 2-0 in normal time but could not carry the momentum through.

Mount Anville vs Wesley College, January 12 2018, Grange Road, Leinster Schoolgirls Senior Premier League semi-final

Isabelle Maleady’s second minute goal meant Muckross led for the vast majority of the tie, exchanging passes with Grace Lanigan to finish off a tidy first goal.

They looked composed and controlled, working nice passes around the back and down the channels, running the game for much of the first half. Wesley’s remit was a counter-attack one, breaking at speed in bursts, Jessica McGrane showing her treat with a sliding touch from Lara Gillespie’s cross keeping Aobha Russell honest between the posts.

Muckross held their single goal lead into half-time – surviving a spell with 10 after Clodagh Ferry’s yellow card – and they went 2-0 up seven minutes into the second half via Louise McGrane.

It came during a mad minute in which Sadhbh Breslin made an amazing save off the line for Wesley. The clearance only offered brief respite as the ball went back into the circle where the shot left the goalkeeper unsighted amid a thicket of legs.

Such was the confusion at the quick shot, the umpires consulted to confirm the last touch was inside the circle but it stood, leaving the Ballinteer outfit with a mountain to climb.

Wesley got a lifeline with 20 minutes to go when Lynne Pomeroy spun on a left wing cross to slot home. And they kept coming forward, drawing level with eight minutes left via Aisling Ellis amid a scramble when an initial shot came back off the post.

Muckross Park celebrate their shoot-out win. Pic: Stephen Findlater

A shoot-out ensued and Wesley soon built a 2-0 lead when Pomeroy and Hazel Simmons scored in the first three rounds. It left Wes a couple of chances to win it but Russell kept out the next two shoot-outs while Sarah McAuley and O’Byrne both scored for 2-2.

Another two rounds of the shoot-out were blank before O’Byrne eventually broke the tie with her superb finish and a ticket to the January 23 final.

Wesley College: E Taylor, G Walsh, S Breslin, J McGrane, A Cullen, E McKay, L Paul, J Douglas, L Pomeroy, H Simmons, H McGrane, L Gillespie, A Dunlop, S Watson, E Paul, C Stapleton, A Ellis, A Walsh

Muckross Park: A Russell, E Fitzgerald, N Shaw, C Ferry, S McAuley, S Maleady, L O’Byrne, L McGrane, K Duddy, G Lanigan, C Browne, I Maleady, F McNulty, H Barr, L Crowe, L Murphy

Mount Anville 3 (N Twomey, G Keane) St Andrew’s 1 (R Lewis)
Natasha Twomey struck twice in the second semi-final as Mount Anville beat Andrew’s 3-1, meaning the two group phase runners-up in the Premier League will contest the final.

Along with partner in crime Niamh Gowing, Twomey’s tenacity, combined with Anna Dignam’s prompting from midfield, the Goatstown school produced some moments of real quality to light up the tie.

The first was Gowing’s stunning first time reverse from the top of the D which Iseult Cambay blocked well. The next was the opening goal. Lisa Mulcahy’s range of passing was something to behold and she found a line to Gowing who used her speed to get away from a tackled before finding the perfect line of ball for Twomey to rush on to.

She got there before Cambay and applied a delicate chip up and over the sliding keeper for 1-0.

The Saints response was quick, winning a number of corners for Kate Orr to drag but the defensive line held. Cambay, at the far end, maintained the minimum margin with a super stop from another Twomey effort just before the break.

Anville moved further ahead 12 minutes into the second half when Grace Keane, again profiting from Gowing approach work, double the lead with an opportunist near post finish.

Andrew’s stepped up their aggression and while Amy Elliott was denied by Kate O’Hogan, it was not long until they were on the board via Robyn Lewis, finishing at the back post after the ball squirmed her way.

St Andrew’s on the attack in front of their fans. Pic: Rob Micallef (click image for full set of pics)

They sensed a chance and made numerous forays forward with Martha McCready becoming more and more influential. But their hopes came to an end when they swapped out their goalkeeper.

Twomey showed her doggedness to fight for every last ball, beating off a couple of tacklers and chipped into an open goal, making it 3-1 with 10 seconds to go.

Mount Anville: K O’Hogan, L Mulcahy, I O’Grady, S O’Dea, E Mulcahy, A O’Brien, A Dignam, G Keane, N Twomey, N Gowing, C Sandford, J Ringrose, I Cotter, A Costello, A Kenny, N Walsh

St Andrew’s: I Cambay, K Orr, A Lord, K-J Marshall, R Quirke, A Elliott, R Diggin, L O’Reilly, J Barrett, G Lewis, S Temperley, R O’Leary, R Lewis, M McCready, H Bateson

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