UCD’s muscle memory makes light of disrupted preseason to land ISC once again

Women’s Irish Senior Cup final 

Pegasus 1 (R Maguire) UCD 3 (H McLoughlin, M Carey, K Egan) 

UCD showed plenty of muscle memory to continue their incredible run in the women’s Irish Senior Cup with a third title in four years, beating Pegasus 3-1 at Comber Road. 

Picture-perfect goals from Hannah McLoughlin and Michelle Carey set them up with a 2-0 lead. Ruth Maguire pulled one back in the third quarter for Pegs but the students killed off the tie in the last ten minutes when Katherine Egan battered in the third from an excellent counter. 

It took just four minutes for the students to hit the front with McLoughlin – a strong contender for player of the game in the UCD midfield engine room – dragging a corner into the bottom left corner.  

Last week, their forward line was rendered inert but the return of a quartet of players allowed Carey to move further up the field and it soon paid dividends. 

In a tight spot on the baseline, she used some of the tricks picked up on the camogie fields of Coaliste Iosagain where she enjoyed plenty of schools success to chip the ball waist-high and then volleyed home. 

A couple more corners went close to adding to the tally as Pegasus got off to a sluggish start but roared back into it after half-time. Maguire’s determination led to a first shot on target for Clodagh Cassin to deal with and the midfielder was the scorer in the 44th minute from a clever corner move from the injector spot with Shirley McCay applying the disguise pass. 

Pegs threw everything forward but the tie was settled from a blistering counter, Carey providing the slide-rule pass for Sarah Young who picked out Egan to smash in. 

In these strange times, captain Ellen Curran got to lift the famous trophy on her own with her team mates at a distance, crowning one of the “strangest” but most cherished successes of her career.  

UCD’s Hannah McLoughlin celebrates her goal. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Her appearance was a big boon for UCD; she picked up an injury in the week lockdown took hold and had only returned to running last week. While her minutes were limited, it added a talismanic presence. 

“It has been so long since we even played that semi-final against Loreto last October. We are so grateful to be here today in the circumstances, particularly with Dublin going into level 3 on Friday and we wondered would it be off again.” 

Indeed, formal word only came through to their team management at 9pm that UCD were allowed make the trip with the college set to go into stricter restrictions than the rest of Dublin. 

Their side had three special “guests” play in the final with Suzie Kelly and sisters Orla and Sarah allowed back for a testimonial. They had indicated their plans to move on following graduation but this cup still uses last term’s registrations, and it made for the perfect farewell. 

That trio had only training once with the team during EYHL preseason – last Thursday night – and so it was a little bit of a surprise that they gelled so quickly. 

Megan Todd saves from KJ Marshall. Pic: Adrian Boehm

But coach Miles Warren said they were the perfect people to fit in: “The three girls who came back have played massive minutes for us in the last two years so they arrived at training on Thursday and slotted in seamlessly.  

“They are such lovely girls that, socially, it made the dynamic in the group so happy and everyone was so glad to see them. We came in with little pressure because we felt our preparation wasn’t ideal and it was about enjoying the day which they did! 

“We played a phenomenal first half, scored the two goals and could have maybe snuck another, then it all changed in the second half.  

“We played into their strengths and they applied a lot of pressure so the girls had to show massive bravery to defend the lead. When we went 2-1, we responded with a brilliant goal from deep in our 25 up the pitch. A fantastic way to kill the game and so happy to win it!” 

As for Orla Patton, she signs off on a wonderful time with UCD, winning three Irish Senior Cup medals – like sister Sarah and Kelly – had the tears rolling when her team mates made a special presentation in the aftermath. 

“I have been the granny of the team for a year at least!” she joked. “With post-grad studies, I was able to stay a bit longer so I have done six seasons – not quite an all-time record but it’s quite long.  

Ellen Curran lifts the Irish Senior Cup. Pic: Adrian Boehm

“The girls are so great and I hope they go on to continue the legacy! With it being last years’ squad and there being a lot of turnover in UCD, I was delighted to be asked back and I thought it would be a great way to finish off 

“It might be my most successful period in my hockey career but we will see! I couldn’t have asked for better and I will cherish this one!” 

UCD: C Cassin, S Kelly, O Patton, KJ Marshall, S Patton, E Curran, H McLoughlin, A Elliott, M Carey, K Egan, S Young 

Subs: C Cope, E Young, N Heisterkamp, G Keane, S Thomas, L Gunning, N Carey 

Pegasus: M Todd, K McDonald, M Harvey, S McCay, S Quinn, R Maguire, C Beggs, N McIvor, L McKee, A Speers, T Doherty 

Subs: E Montgomery, O Berry, K Gourley, C Harvey, M Dougan, A Robinson, E Armstrong 

Umpires: K Collins, A Keogh 

Partners of The Hook