McLoughlin’s masterclass keeps Muckross up in the EYHL

Women’s EY Hockey League Promotion/Relegation playoff
Muckross 1 (E Mathews) Queen’s 1 (J McMaster), Muckross win shoot-out 1-0
Ellie McLoughlin produced a shoot-out masterclass to preserve Muckross’s place in the women’s EY Hockey League for a second season as they saw off Queen’s in the promotion/relegation playoff.

It was something of a steal from a tie packed with nerves with so much on the line for both sides, something which Muckross coach Sarah Scott admitted following the tie.

Her side were on the back foot for the first half, falling behind to a classy piece of work from Jessica McMaster while they had to ride out eight penalty corners before the big break.

But they fought back in the second half and got a lifeline from a fortuitous Emma Mathews’ touch and they went on to win the tightest of shoot-outs 1-0.

“It wasn’t the prettiest game at all and we were totally shell-shocked by the occasion,” Scott said afterwards.

“But in the third and fourth quarter, we got more of a grip on the game and had a bit more of an impact. I’m just so happy for the players; they got beaten up this year and I am delighted we get another opportunity at this level.”

They did so with one of the youngest line-ups around with Sophie Barnwell the eldest team member at just 22.

“We had nine teenagers, three of them are 20. Psychologically, the near losses in the league really ended up standing to us today. No matter what we have been through, we have coped with anything that has been thrown at us and it has been a credit to us. There is so much talent in this side.”

Like a week ago in the EYHL2 final against Catholic Institute, Queen’s started brilliantly and won five corners in the first ten minutes with McMaster and Tori Hastings driving things.

They deservedly went in front in the second quarter when McMaster picked up play 35 metres out, raced by a few tackles and proceeded to shoot home on her reverse for 1-0.

And they might well have had a few more but for some saves at close quarters from McLoughlin to deny Emily McStea and a Hastings’ drag.

Out of nothing, Muckross were level a minute into the second half when a couple of loose balls across the face of goal from Queen’s gave Emma Mathews the chance to nick in and touch by Sarah McCabe.

It gave them a visible lift and their defensive triangle of Caroline Mathews, Sarah McAuley and Lisa Mulcahy played a key role. Queen’s fluidity was stymied and Muckross started to find more chances.

They earned a couple of corners while Yasmin Pratt got in around the back to cause problems but no winner accrued for either side.

For Queen’s, it meant revisiting the format that was their downfall a week ago against Insta and they will have further nightmares over this shoot-out. Pratt scored in the first round while the students saw each of their efforts run out of time, go over, hit the post and then succumb to McLoughlin’s raiding stick.

It meant just the single goal was needed and Muckross had their place in the top tier safe for another season.

Muckross: E McLoughlin, C Mathews, Y Pratt, L Mulcahy, R Cuddy, J Holland, G Keane, N Gowing, S McAuley, S O’Loughlin, E Mathews, L Hanlon, S Barnwell, K Fitzgerald, S Cannon, E Dawson, E Fitzgerald, S Cunningham

Queen’s: S McCabe, K Ferguson, E Gregson, J McMaster, C Whiteside, M Bowyer, T Hastings, A Jebb, E McStea, R Quinn, J Morrow, E Getty, E Kernohan, K Aston, A Boland, B Ravey, M McKenna, J Morrow, S Murnaghan

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