Women’s EY Champions Trophy semi-final
Loreto 1 (A Meeke) UCD 0
Loreto produced the perfect tactical performance to end UCD’s bid for a second successive national treble as Ali Meeke’s tenacious 14th minute goal proved critical in the first semi-final at Grange Road.
She took on a free herself, goaded the defender at the head of the D before making her entry into the circle with a quick jink. From there, she kept tipping away with the ball bouncing back to her stick twice, the latter time off Clodagh Cassin’s chest before popping home the rebound.
It was the moment of inspiration required for Loreto who had been the most likely to beat UCD this term but had not quite got the breakthrough in their league and Irish Senior Cup battles.
It might have been different had Deidre Duke taken one of two big chances in the first half; the first saw her round Alannah Carragher only to push into the outside of the goal, the latter was a fresh-air when set free.
Loreto, though, were the side in the driving seat for the vast majority of the tie. UCD were not allowed to set their platform around the back with numerous turnovers forced. The Beaufort side ran up four corners, one of which saw Cassin pull out an unreal stop from Siofra O’Brien’s deflection at close quarters. Sarah Torrans volleyed wide and also had a clean strike repelled by Cassin.
UCD’s attacks, meanwhile, were funnelled more and more directly down the throats of the immaculate centre back pairing of Hannah Matthews and Hannah McLoughlin while Nicci Daly is the perfect woman to outlet to and release the pressure.
There was a heart-stopper with two minutes to go when Lena Tice fired in a crash ball which Sorcha Clarke deflected in. The free, however, was taken outside the 23m line rather than inside and moved five metres.
UCD: C Cassin, S Twomey, L McGuire, D Duke, E Curran, K Mullan, E Russell, A Russell, L Tice, O Patton, S Robinson
Subs: L Gunning, K Egan, B Barr, S Clarke, A Richardson, E Young, S Young
Loreto: A Carragher, A Meeke, S O’Brien, H McLoughlin, N Small, S Torrans, C Hamill, H Matthews, S Clarke, N Daly, C Sherin
Subs: S Evans, H Mulcahy, M Jennings, A Taaffe, L Fitzgerald, H McDermott, J McGirr
Umpires: L Coughlan, A Keogh