St Andrew’s shoot their way to Leinster Senior Cup seventh heaven

Leinster Schoolgirls Senior Cup final
St Andrew’s 1 (M McCready) Wesley College 1 (L Gillespie), St Andrew’s win shoot-out 3-2
St Andrew’s drew plenty of “Pinderella” shoot-out inspiration as they landed their seventh Leinster Schoolgirls’ Senior Cup title, denying Wesley a first crown since 1998 at a thronged, colourful and loud Grange Road.

It came in heart-stopping fashion, Wesley’s Emma Paul’s attempt crossing the goal-line just a second too late for the eight-second limit as goalkeeper Iseult Cambay’s scrambling heroics proved vital.

For Andrew’s, it completed a remarkable recovery from 2-0 down in the shoot-out, winning 3-2 with Katie-Jane Marshall scoring twice, including the pivotal one in sudden death.

Her double bore all the hallmarks of her coach Gillian Pinder’s efforts last summer from the Irish women’s World Cup semi-final win over Spain.

In so doing, Pinder created a little piece of history, winning the cup as a player – in 2009 and 2010 – and as a coach within a decade.

“Katie’s way better at them than I am I am glad to say! She’s just so cool headed and whenever she stepped up, I am confident it will be a goal!”

Asked what know-how did she impart from last summer, Pinder joked she just told them “I’m not sure closing your eyes and hoping for the best is the best tactic” but there was plenty of method behind their efforts.

“We trained them a lot; it happened against Muckross in the quarter-finals and were again 2-0 down so that really stood to us, being under that pressure.

“I definitely prefer being a player. You don’t feel anywhere near as nervous when you are on the pitch. I can’t believe we got it to sudden death; I looked up at the scoreboard and it wasn’t looking great. Fair play to the girls to do it under that pressure and to Iseult to save that last one.”

In normal time, Andrew’s had looked the more forceful side early on but Wesley got the first cuts at goal, winning a trio of corners while Lara Gillespie drew the first of a number of good saves from Cambay.

Over time, Amy Elliott’s buzzing presence grew in influence while Marshall was dominant in the sweeper role. They took the lead in the 10th minute when a Gaby Lewis shot squirmed into Martha McCready’s path and she calmly slipped home.

Wesley fought back after half-time, levelling when Rachel Patterson intercepted a loose ball out of defence. She laid on an inviting ball for Irish cycling star Gillespie who brilliantly chipped over the on-rushing Cambay.

From there, defences were resolute with Emma Paul excelling in Wesley’s defence, stepping forward to be the first line of tacklers and setting attacks in motion.

A chanceless final 10 minutes led to the shoot-out where Paul and Charlotte Stapleton gave Wesley a 2-0 lead halfway through the third round.

But Cambay was not to be beaten again from the next four efforts as Marshall scrambled one in and Lewis levelled a clutch effort, brilliantly sending Holly Micklem the wrong way.

Marshall slotted once again and Cambay did enough to hold up Paul in round six and the title was Andrew’s once again.

“We did have a better first half and then they capitalised off a mistake we made,” Pinder added. “We found it really hard to get our bearings in the second half so a draw was probably fair enough so I’m just glad to be on the right side of the one-v-ones.

The victory sees St Andrew’s qualify for the Kate Russell All-Ireland Championships which they will host in Booterstown. Kilkenny College are already confirmed to join them there.

St Andrew’s: I Cambay, K-J Marshall, J Lord, A Orr, G Lewis, A Elliott, J Barrett, N O’Connell, R Diggin, D Aikens, M McCready
Subs: K Murphy, R Walshe, T King, R O’Leary, J Byrne, E Arrowsmith, S Bulger

Wesley College: H Micklem, I Marcoux, A Dunlop, H McGrane, C Stapleton, E Paul, E McKay, L Gillespie, M Reid, S Breslin, S Wall
Subs: F Onchonma, A O’Sullivan, E Taylor, A Esmonde, R Patterson, D McCabe, A O’Connor

Umpires: S Canning, C Metchette

Partners of The Hook