** This article originally appeared in the Irish Examiner on January 1
Ingrid Burns’ hat trick propelled Cork Harlequins to the annual Southern Fried Munster Under-21 championship title as they beat city rivals C of I 4-2 at Garryduff on Saturday.
It continued Quins excellent 2017 in which their first team is very much in contention for national honours, sitting second in the EY Hockey League.
Burns was among some of their big guns from that squad along with Irish senior international goalkeeper Emma Buckley and Irish Under-21 panelist Michelle Barry.
Burns netted the first two goals to build a strong 2-0 advantage only for C of I to bounce back. The host club levelled the game at 2-2 with 18 minutes still to play, Amy Stokes notching a smart backhand rebound before Christina Dring scored a penalty stroke to tie things up.
But Barry popped up with a corner rebound in the closing stages before Burns completed her treble and the victory soon after.
On the men’s side, Cork C of I won the competition for a fourth successive year with a surprisingly comfortable 6-0 final win over Waterford.
Waterford had won the first meeting of the sides in the group stages 2-1 with Harry McCarthy to the fore.
But they ran out of legs for the final as Julian Dale, already capped for Ireland, fired a hat trick with Peter Coulter, Harry Deane and Kevin O’Dea also on the mark.
It capped a cracking fifth edition of the annual post-Christmas competition which expanded for 2017 to include an Under-16 tournament, too. Bandon won the boys’ junior section with C of I’s girls prevailing.
In total, 23 teams took part across the four competitions with 103 goals scored in the 43 games played in a nine-a-side format.
U21 Men: C of I
U21 Women: Harlequins
U16 Boys: Bandon
U16 Girls: C of I
U21 Men: Harry McCarthy (Waterford)
U21 Women: Roisin O’Dea (C of I)
U16 Boys: Mark Collins (Bandon)
U16 Girls: Shirley Bailey (C of I)
Goalkeeper: Rachel Shute (Waterford)