New potential stars will get their chance to shine as the women’s Irish Senior Cup final will see both Cork Harlequins and Loreto shorn of some of their biggest names for the showdown at Grange Road on Saturday (1.30pm).
Cork Harlequins coach Darren Collins is hoping “one more big performance” from his charges. They will be hoping to land the title for just the second time – their first came in 2000 – but will have to make do without three of their big guns for the challenge.
Collins always knew that Yvonne O’Byrne was unlikely to get the nod due to international commitments.
It was flagged a number of months ago that central Irish players would be barred from playing due to the proximity of the Hockey Series Finals in June, a key step in the Olympic qualifying process.
Less ideal, though, are Cliodhna Sargent’s ACL injury sustained in the semi-final win over Pegasus while key striker Rebecca Barry will be in the US for the tie.
In the opposition ranks, Loreto will miss World Cup stars Ali Meeke, Hannah Matthews and Nicci Daly as well as Sarah Torrans, meaning a form guide is anyone’s guess.
Harlequins only lost in the league at the same venue – but different pitch – earlier this season to a last second penalty corner but little can be drawn from that tie given the absence of so many star names.
For Collins, that backdrop means the stage is open for a new star to step up.
“We were always due to be without Yvonne and so the plan was to minimise the impact of that. We will have up to eight schoolgirls on the squad on Saturday and so will be up against it and someone will have take on extra responsibility.”
That schoolgirl total is up from the usual six including four from the Mount Mercy Munster Senior Cup final team along with Nikki Barry and Caoimhe Perdue.
Perdue has been superb this term, earning a call into the Irish Under-21 panel, a side which Michelle Barry will co-captain later this month in a tournament with India, Canada and Scotland.
“The young players have brought great energy to the team and are great players in their own right.
“In the last quarter against Pegasus last week [in the EY Champions Trophy semi-final], our inexperience maybe got shown up in a way but that experience will stand to them.
“We have tried to manage it as best we can. The older girls have been great leaders and, hopefully, we have one more big performance in us.”
For Loreto, they can still call on five of the Irish Under-21 tournament panel with goalkeeper Liz Murphy, Mia Jennings, Grace McLoughlin, Siofra O’Brien and Christina Hamill as well as Caitlin Sherin who is not in that panel due to her Leaving Certificate.
As such, they probably have the edge on paper and may well be able to call on experienced players from their second string with Jessica McGirr having featured in the semi-final.
Saturday, 11th May
Women’s Irish Senior Cup final: Cork Harlequins v Loreto, Grange Road, 1.30pm