Hermes and Elks set for ISC final showdown

Women’s Irish Senior Cup, semi-finals
Hermes will face the Ulster Elks in the final of the women’s Irish Senior Cup following their victories over Cork Harlequins and Railway Union, respectively, in contrasting ties.

The former, going for their fifth title having last won it nine years ago, got the better of Quins 3-0 in Farmer’s Cross in front of a big crowd despite cold, windy conditions.

Karen Bateman gave them an early scare but Emma Gray’s strong block kept out that early chance and, within a minute, Sinead Loughran gave Hermes the lead with a great run from halfway before finishing low into the bottom left hand corner.

And one became two just before half-time when Loughran again instigated the attack, racing down the middle before setting Caitriona McGilp for a simple finish for 2-0 at half-time.

Harlequins bounced back in the second half, Alex O’Grady winning the first corner of the tie which Cliodhna Sargent shot just wide. Rachael Kohler and Bateman won further corners but they could not convert – Sargent struck one over backboard height to be disallowed.

Hermes scored from their set piece with 11 minutes to go when Christine Quinlan shot home on the switch to seal the victory and a first final berth since 2011.

Ulster Elks, meanwhile, will play in their first ever Irish Senior Cup final after they got the better of 2013 champions Railway Union on penalties after an incredibly tight battle.

The Jordanstown hosts hit the front when Megan Frazer dispossessed the Dubliners in midfield and counter-attacked at pace, setting up Laura McAlpine for the goal. Zara Delany equalised 25 minutes in from a good corner move, getting a touch at the back post.

From there, chances were few and far between with both sides battling hard with Emma Smyth and Kate Lloyd impressing for Railway while Frazer and Shirley McCay led the Elks’ charge as the game headed through extra time without further scores.

After the first ten strokes were all scored, Railway missed in round six while Frazer scored to win the shoot-out 6-5.

Results: Cork Harlequins 0 Hermes 3 (S Loughran, C McGilp, C Quinlan); Ulster Elks 1 (L McAlpine) Railway Union 1 (Z Delany), Elks win 6-5 on penalty strokes

Leinster Division One
Loreto, Pembroke and UCD all won on Saturday to push their respective IHL agendas with the students claiming a ticket to next year’s competition with game to go.

Loreto fought off Old Alex 4-2 at Beaufort in a wide-open, entertaining affair. Alex took the lead via Sylvia Gilsenan from a penalty corner early on before Loreto fought back with a run of several corners.

Pam Smithwick kept them out until a great run from Nicci Daly, driving in from the inside left channel and finding the bottom corner. Vanessa Winn was forced to retire early due to an arm injury while Alex made Loreto work extremely hard to get a breakthrough.

Nikki Evans shoots in UCD's win over Corinthian Pic: Adrian Boehm

Nikki Evans shoots in UCD’s win over Corinthian Pic: Adrian Boehm

They went ahead in the second half as Daly became more influential and she scored her second, stealing the ball on the 22 and broke into the circle to score.

Lizzie Colvin added a third before a fourth took a defensive deflection to extend the lead out to 4-1. Alex got one back when Freya McDermott found Amy Giblin on halfway. She raced forward and passed to Phoebe Hopkins who won a corner which Sally Campbell in her first full club game since Christmas.

Pembroke beat Trinity 2-0 to maintain their place in the top four with a goal in each half. Erika Hinkson pounced on a misplaced pass around the back in the first few minutes and won a corner.

The initial shot was saved but Hinkson popped up with the rebound. From there on, Trinity had a lot of possession in the first half and stepped their back four up pretty high but did not create too many clear cut chances although Anna-May Whelan and Sarah Quill were main threats.

Pembroke had more ball in the second half while Trinity countered to cause some nervy moments with Hayley O’Donnell defending well. Soon after, Kate Collins Smyth picked up the ball in her own half and passed to Eanna Horan who had lost her marker and was alone at top of Trinity D.

She beat the keeper and scored to make it 2-0. After that, Trinity sat deeper and tried to hit on the counter but Pembroke stayed strong and secured the points.

UCD recorded the biggest win of the season with Anna O’Flanagan netting five times and Nikki Evans and Deirdre Duke scoring hat tricks with a 13-0 win over Corinthian.

Results: Loreto 4 Old Alex 2 (A Russell, S Campbell); UCD 13 (O’Flanagan 5, N Evans 3, D Duke 3, E Beatty 2) Corinthian 0; Trinity 0 Pembroke 2 (E Hinkson, E Horan)
Monday: North Kildare v Hermes, 8.15pm, The Maws; Glenanne v Railway Union, 8.30pm, Glenanne Park

Women's Leinster Senior Div 1