SoHockey Munster Schoolgirls Senior Cup final
Mount Mercy 3 (L O’Shea 2, C O’Connor) Crescent CC 1 (M MacNamara)
Leah O’Shea’s virtuoso performance helped inspire Mount Mercy to win back the Munster Schoolgirls Senior Cup crown from Crescent Comprehensive as her double propelled the Cork side to a 3-1 final success.
Both were scored with her lethal reverse-stick, book-ending a cracking end-to-end contest at Villiers with the first and last efforts.
It makes it two titles in the past three years for the side co-coached by Darren Collins and Irish international Yvonne O’Byrne, masterminding the success in the face of adversity.
They were left with just a quarter of a heavily-damaged pitch to train on at time this year which hampered preparations but strong wins over Ashton and Ursulines Thurles gave them another shot at reigning champions Crescent
O’Shea opened the scoring just eight minutes in with a rising shot that proved too hot for Jilly Edwards to handle following a sharp turnover from Suzie Uniacke-Lowe was whipped forward by the influential Lauren Cripps.
It came as something of a sucker-punch as Crescent had started but Edwards was immediately in action alongside Georgia Keane to repel another big chance from a penalty corner.
The Limerick side did settle with the surging runs of Anna Horan and Aoife Hickey a feature and they got back on terms in the second quarter.
Horan was the instigator, her raking pass finding Meadhbh MacNamara around the flick spot; she showed good strength to trap the ball and flick home from close range.
The rollercoaster continued into the second half with Crescent driving on only to be repelled by the excellent Enya O’Donoghue – supported by Sarah and Jane Murphy – at the base of the Mercy defence.
But for some super padwork from Joy O’Kelly, though, Horan would have ghosted in to make it 2-1. As it was, the crucial blows came deep in the second half; Sarah Murphy laid on a brilliant backhand pass to Clodagh O’Connor who was in the right place to guide in for a Mercy lead.
Crescent withdrew their goalkeeper in favour of an extra outfielder but the gamble backfired with three minutes left when a quick long-ball found O’Shea.
She still had plenty to do but she managed to twist between a couple of tackles before finishing with her reverse.
Mount Mercy will now represent Munster at the All-Ireland Kate Russell Championships against’s Leinster’s Loreto Beaufort, the South East’s Loreto Kilkenny, Ulster’s Belfast Royal Academy and Connacht’s Salerno.
Mount Mercy: J O’Kelly, A O’Shea, E O’Donoghue, S Neville, L Cripps, E O’Driscoll, O Cahalane, B O’Hare, S Uniacke-Lowe, G O’Driscoll, C O’Connor, L O’Shea, J O’Reardon, L Hayes, S Forde, S Murphy, M McCarthy, J Murphy
Crescent CC: J Edwards, M MacNamara, A Hickey, S Barry, A O’Byrne, N Griffin, S Clein, E O’Keeffe, G Keane, N McKeogh, E Lane, L Clery, S Hanrahan, R O’Leary, B Byrne, S Fitzgerald, S Dervan, A Horan