Loreto, Railway, Pegasus and Quins through to final four

Loreto ended UCD’s reign as Irish Senior Cup champions with a dramatic shoot-out win at Belfield, putting them into a final four with Pegasus, Railway Union and Cork Harlequins.

The Beaufort side broke the deadlock via a Hannah Matthews’ penalty corner reverse deflection in the first half but UCD were giving as good as they got with Liz Murphy much the busier of the two goalkeepers.

She was beaten early in the second half when Niamh Carey won their fifth penalty corner which Hannah McLoughlin swept in. The Belfielders continued to have the majority of the play but Loreto clung on for a shoot-out chance.

There, it was level all the way, leaving it at 2-2 after four rounds; Matthews scored her effort in the final round before Murphy kept out Sarah Young for a 3-2 success.

Speaking afterwards to Dublin City FM, Miles Warren reflected: “I said to the girls it is the happiest I have been having lost out in a shoot-out because of the way we played. It was definitely the best performance we have put in as a team this season.

“To do that against a team at the top, very happy with that. We probably had the balance of the game. It’s unfortunate we are not going into the semis but that is the lottery of penalties.”

It was the first time Clodagh Cassin had lost a shoot-out in her UCD career in three years, famously making a wealth of saves in the 2017 Champions Trophy final.

Warren says the focus is now on trying to assure his side gets back to that stage, admitting the league is “probably out of reach” at this stage despite there still being several games to play, unless things go majorly in their favour.

Just up the road in Ballsbridge, Alex Speers struck four times as Pegasus raided Pembroke for a 4-2 win to take up their place in the semi-finals. She chipped in a rebound in the 14th minute off Iseult Cambay’s pads to start the scoring.

Aisling Naughton equalised but Speers was on the mark again in the minutes before half time following a lovely passage of play down the left wing. The former Irish skipper got on the end of Shirley McCay’s corner sweep for the third and she completed her tally from another corner for a 4-1 lead.

Naughton’s shot was deflected in with a few minutes to go but the Belfast side were already well in the clear.

Railway made it through with a 3-1 win over Ards. Kate Lloyd’s cracking reverse stick cross was finished off perfectly by Cecelia Joyce at the back post to get them in front.

Ards were dangerous on the counter and did force Orla Fox into scramble mode to get back and smash one off the line.

But the Dubliners looked more comfortable when Amy Elliott’s turnover in midfield laid on Sarah Hawkshaw who rounded the goalkeeper but was fouled as she went to shoot. Orla Fox scored the ensuing stroke.

Cliodhna Sargent celebrates her crucial goal. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Lloyd then made it 3-0 when she dispossessed the visitors’ defence and smashed into the top corner. Francesca Brown got a consolation in the closing minutes from a corner rebound.

Cliodhna Sargent’s penalty corner strike five minutes from time sent Cork Harlequins through to the final four after an extremely intense battle at Muckross Park.

Quins enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the opening quarter and after three penalty corners went awry, they were on the mark in the 20th minute from a quick turnover. The ball was worked to Rebecca Barry whose reverse hit the backboard.

The lead did not last long though as Caroline Mathews launched a Muckross attack which led to her side’s first corner. A switch move to Sarah McAuley on the left saw the defender find the goal for 1-1 at half-time.

It remained that way until five minutes from the end as Quins ramped up the pressure and eventually retook the lead from a corner that Sargent fired home.

The Cork side were reduced to nine players in the closing phases but Muckross could not find a leveller and so bow out at the last eight stage.

Reflecting on the result, Muckross coach Sarah Scott said: “Gutted to lose that one; we were a bit tentative in the first part but gradually grew into the game.

“We pressed Cork very well in the second part of the first half but unfortunately, with the injuries in the middle part of the game [to Lisa Mulcahy and Sarah McAuley], we lost a bit of momentum but got it back later on.

“Cliodhna took her goal really well, catching out our first and second runner. I was hoping for one v ones at that stage to see how our goalkeeper would fare!

“But we are on the up. We do have a two week break until Ards now which has been tricky to manage with all the changes in the calendar with a lot rearranged fixtures. This will disrupt our sixth year students but, overall, very happy with how we competed.”

In the Irish Hockey Trophy, Cork C of I kept up their hopes of winning the title for a third time as they won a shoot-out at Grange Road against Three Rock.

Two Galway sides are in the final four with Zara O’Toole getting the only goal for Greenfields in their 1-0 win Omagh. Greenfields won a shoot-out in Donegal against Raphoe.

Portadown complete the last four thanks to a 2-1 success against Our Lady’s.

In Munster, meanwhile, Ciara Moloney’s double saw Catholic Institute take a massive step toward the Division One title as they beat nearest rivals Ashton 5-1.

It puts them three points clear with a game in hand, continuing their perfect run of results in all competitions. They do, though, have big games on February 2 against UCC and Ashton again on February 10. Win both of those and the title will be as good as theirs.

Irish Senior Cup – Quarter Finals: Pembroke 2 (A Naughton, A Ward) Pegasus 4 (A Speers 4); Railway Union 3 (C Joyce, O Fox, K Lloyd) Ards 1 (F Brown); UCD 1 (H McLoughlin) Loreto 1 (H Matthews), Loreto win shoot-out 3-2; Muckross 1 (S MacAuley) Cork Harlequins 2 (R Barry, C Sargent)

Irish Hockey Trophy – Quarter Finals: Omagh 0 Greenfields 1 (Z O’Toole); Portadown 2 (L Craig, C Dunn) Our Lady’s 1; Raphoe 3 (V Wray 2, Z Tinney) NUIG 3 (K Langan, K Codyre, R Heskin), NUIG win shoot-out 3-1; Three Rock Rovers 2 (S Lyon, A Griffiths) Cork C of I 2 (H Honner 2), C of I won shoot-out 2-1

Munster Division 1: Ashton 1 (K Burke) Catholic Institute 5 (C Moloney 2, L Foley, A Hickey, J Kirby); Limerick 0 UCC 7 (A Collins 2, C Dring 2, L Ryan 2, R O’Dea); Waterford 3 (J Wagenaar, D Cotter, F O’Leary) Bandon 1 (A Moloney)

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