C of I forge amazing comeback to defeat Greenfields in Trophy final

Women’s Irish Hockey Trophy final
Cork C of I 4 (H Honner 2, K Gaffney, K Coombes) Greenfields 2 (A McGovern, M Holden)
Cork C of I produced a remarkable second half comeback to win the women’s Irish Hockey Trophy for the third time, fighting back from 2-0 down to beat Greenfields 4-2 at Serpentine Avenue.

In truth, they were the stand-out side in the final, winning 13 penalty corners which they eventually made tell. It was a similar story in the semi-final when they trailed to NUIG before running out 2-1 winners.

Cork C of I celebrate their third Irish Hockey Trophy success. Pic: Adrian Boehm

“It’s not a great trait to go down early on but we always will come back out fighting all the time,” captain Nicola Kerr said afterwards. “When we do, we are unstoppable!

“We just seem to like putting ourselves under pressure before we start playing our best hockey! We did it again today. We were slow off the mark and they caught us on the hop. But we couldn’t leave here today without the trophy; we knew it was ours for the taking.”

The tie, indeed, looked to be one-way traffic in the opening stages as they ran up four penalty corners in the first four minutes but nothing would stick for them in a frustrating spell.

Then, out of the blue, Greenfields forged an attack through Rebecca Gilligan with the ball worked through to Alacoque McGovern alone around the p-spot. She took her time before shooting through the defences of Sarah Wrixon for a seventh minute lead.

Again, C of I went forward with purpose with Hannah Honner a livewire bursting down the right flank with Hollie Moffett and Mel Ryan driving things on.

Sarah Dunleavy and Aine Collins performed heroics at the back to stymie the waves of attacks and they once again took their chance when it came in the 23rd minute.

This time, Charlotte Elliott got off a shot that Sarah Wrixon got down brilliantly to deny but Meabh Holden followed up on her reverse to slide in for 2-0.

Things got worse for the Cork side when Holly Sweetnam was shown a yellow before half-time and a couple more attacking corners went awry.

“Nerves were probably part of it,” Kerr added. “I thought we dominated and then they got their goal and our heads went down; the second goal put our heads down even more. At half-time, we got some talking to and we came out a different team.”

Their frustrations continued in the early stages of the second half with Moffett and the influential Kerr planting shots into the chest of Sinead Collins.

Moffett’s deflected corner shot hit the front of the post but their breakthrough eventually did come when Kerr crossed and Honner scrambled home the ball, 2-1 with 24 minutes to go.

Kirsty Coombes celebrates her clinching goal. Pic: Adrian Boehm

It released the floodgates and they were level with 14 minutes to go when they went the direct route from corner number 11, Kay Gaffney smashing home, skipping their usual array of switches.

Honner then gave them the lead with less than 10 minutes to go, a superbly worked corner move with a touch in front of Sinead Collins.

Greenfields almost sent the tie to shoot-out when Aine Collins cracked a shot off the crossbar but the game was killed off when Kirsty Coombes tore through the centre of the field and slipped home the fourth goal.

“The first half was a bit nerve-wracking but we certainly went into the second half all guns blazing,” C of I coach Graham Catchpole added. “We were disappointed with our start, getting those corners but not converting and the girls did themselves proud in the second half.

“Greenfields took their chances; they probably only had five or six circle entries and scored from two of them. We had plenty of chances, hit the post, hit the crossbar.

“We just needed to cop on, show a little bit of direction. We were holding on to the ball a bit much, running into contact too much and move the ball faster and we saw that in the second half. When we did that around the back, we were that bit stronger.”

Cork C of I: S Wrixon, H Sweetnam, N Kerr, C Sexton, R Kingston, O Crowley, A Roberts, A O’Mahony, J Coyne, E O’Hara, H Moffett, S Baker, H Honner, K Coombes, M Ryan, K Gaffney, J Barry, L McHugh

Greenfields: S Collins, S Dunleavy, K Dunleavy, R Gilligan, A McGovern, C Moore, T Garrett, S Tierney, J Anderson, A Finnerty, E O’Connor, C Elliott, A Hennessy, M Holden, Z O’Toole, A Collins, S Burke, J Langan

Umpires: C Brophy, R Christie

Partners of The Hook