Pegasus and Loreto advance to women’s EY Champs Trophy final

Pegasus will meet Loreto in the women’s EY Champions Trophy final on Sunday at Banbridge’s Havelock Park after they both won 2-1 in their semi-finals, seeing off Cork Harlequins and UCD, respectively, a result which means both clubs will be bound for Europe in some form next season.

Pegasus, the regular season champions, were the first to make it through as Taite Doherty’s strike with three minutes to go proved the difference against Quins.

They were largely in control of the tie but could not make more use of their nine penalty corners which meant Quins always had a strong element of danger about them.

All the goals came in the second half as Lucy McKee opened the scoring from a penalty corner ricochet from Alex Speers fell her way and she made no mistake.

Julia O’Halloran replied immediately when Olivia Roycroft’s shot was saved her way by Megan Todd and the former Irish international brilliantly volleyed home as the ball approached her head.

During the final quarter, Pegs came back and put on the pressure with Lorna Bateman making key interventions.

And they went in front when Yvonne O’Byrne was in the sin-bin for a yellow card offence and Pegs got the ball to Doherty on the right baseline. Her push across goal came up at waist-height but took a wicked deflection to loop into the goal for the killer blow.

The second semi-final was a slow-burner but ultimately goals from full-backs Caitlin Sherin and Sarah Clarke made the difference.

The tempo built as the first half wore on with Michelle Carey’s first quarter sighter the first shot in anger. The Beaufort side stepped up for the closing phases of the second quarter with Ali Meeke showing their intention when she flashed a shot across the face of goal.

And they went in front on the half hour when Sherin drove forward from right back. She fed a weighted ball for Nicci Daly to shoot which Clodagh Cassin saved but only into the path of Sherin who followed up to push home despite Cassin’s diving attempt.

Loreto saw off UCD 2-1 in the second semi-final. Pic: Adrian Boehm

UCD came back strong in the second half but Hannah Matthews proved immaculate at breaking up attacks and they almost went further clear when Daly went close. Siofra O’Brien was also through one-on-one but Cassin smothered her intentions.

The 2-0 came with 10 minutes to go in fortuitous fashion from a penalty corner when Sarah Clarke’s soft push was seemingly meant as a pass but deceived everyone and snuck in.

UCD replied instantly to get their goal when Hannah McLoughlin’s corner sweep was parried by Liz Murphy and Niamh Carey threw herself at the loose ball to scramble over the line.

Her twin sister came close to an equaliser a minute later while Leah McGuire’s final hooter corner was brilliantly tipped away by Murphy to send Loreto through.

Women’s EY Champions Trophy semi-finals: Pegasus 2 (L McKee, T Doherty) Cork Harlequins 1 (J O’Halloran); Loreto 2 (C Sherin, S Clarke) UCD 1 (N Carey)

Final (Sunday): Loreto v Pegasus, Havelock Park, 2.30pm

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