Jacqui Potter Cup semi-final
Loreto 1 (S Torrans) UCD 0
There was ring-rust and some dodgy touches but, mostly, there was a sense of joy to be back in action at Beaufort as Loreto edged out UCD 1-0 in the Jacqui Potter Cup semi-final.
“It’s brilliant; it took me a bit by surprise but I was a bit emotional when we were talking after the game because it has been so long,” Ali Meeke said of what it felt like to hit the turf once again.
This game was originally scheduled for March 11 but was pulled at very much the last minute with the two teams in the changing rooms on a drizzly night when news came through that Leinster hockey was on hiatus.
“It’s my longest break that I can remember. I was a little bit lost at the beginning but, on reflection, it was a really good thing for me from a headspace point of view. We all need a bit of space from what we love at times.
“It gave me time to get that real passion, desire and emotion back and I absolutely loved it. Little bit rusty on both sides but also some really good hockey so it was nice to see we all hadn’t all lost our touch completely.”
Both sides were missing key names; Loreto’s Mia Jennings and Aoife Taaffe were in Dublin Ladies Gaelic senior championship final action for Kilmacud Crokes while Caitlin Sherin, Kate Crotty and Nicci Daly were out, too.
For UCD, Ellen Curran and Niamh Carey were both injured and are doubts for next Saturday’s Irish Senior Cup final. Suzie Kelly did drop in as a guest, eligible from last season’s registrations, but is Monkstown-bound this term, but Miles Warren could only work with 14 players as he did not have access to any freshers for the competitions leftover from last term.
Loreto started stronger, forcing four corners and really should have gone one up but injector Hannah Matthews contrived to miscue a bouncing ball with the goal beckoning, an early season aberration.
UCD’s hard-working midfield trio of Hannah McLoughlin, Amy Elliott and Michelle Carey did create inroads of their own. McLoughlin robbed the last defender before testing Liz Murphy while Grace McLoughlin did well to scoop a looping ball out of the goalmouth from a corner.
The only goal arrived in the 38th minute, a lovely specimen. Ali Meeke glided left before slipping the ball to the back post where Sarah Torrans attacked it first time, connecting beautifully to rise it into the roof.
“It worked out well! I don’t know if I could fully see [Sarah] Torrans back there – I just saw a head around there – but she gave it a super finish,” Meeke said of her involvement. “I don’t really know how she got on the end of it but she did!”
UCD did create plenty in the third quarter but Murphy was composed to glove away Nina Heisterkamp and Elliott shots.
They ran out of steam in the fourth phase, however, but just about stayed in the tie when Matthews slipped a penalty stroke wide with three minutes to go. Loreto, however, killed off the tie well and go on to meet Pembroke in the final.
“Thrilled,” Meeke said of having the chance of winning the Jacqui Potter Cup for the first time having missed the 2016 decider.
“The last few years, if we made that far, we [the Irish internationals] have missed the semis and the final, normally over in England for a camp, racing to our phones to see how the girls were getting on.
a“It’s something we missed out on so it will be special to take part in it and enjoy the day. No silverware from the Jacqui Potter for me so wouldn’t mind getting my hands on it!”