Freya McDermott’s extra time piledriver earned Alexandra College a berth in the Leinster Schoolgirls Senior Cup final, shooting her side to a 1-0 win over Loreto, Foxrock.
It piled the pain on Foxrock in a replicate of the Premier League final. Both times, normal time had ended scoreless before Alex struck in extra time at Grange Road.Prior to that, the Milltown outfit had the guts of the tie, winning five penalty corners with just one in reply, as Sophie Roopnarinesingh and Katherine Egan attacked from all angles.
Eva Beatty went closest, shaving the bar from the best of three early chances while Roopnarinesingh’s steals on halfway were a feature. Three first half corners slipped by.
Indeed, they could not find a way past the immaculate Hannah McLoughlin and Jane Conway Kenny in goal as the first half ended scoreless. The second half started in similar fashion but Loreto rode out that spell and it was they who looked the more likely to win it in the closing 10 minutes.
Ellen Curran buzzed in attack at time went on for Foxrock, her speed and close control down the right flank a joy to watch at times. Caroline Nugent, however, was not to be beaten, making it 10 games since she was last beaten between the posts.
Scoreless at the full-time, it took until the second minute of the second period of extra time for the goal to finally arrive with McDermott’s power seeing the ball take a couple of ricochets before bouncing in.
It sets up a final date against reigning champions St Gerard’s who came through an equally close battle with Muckross Park thanks to Mia Cullen’s close range goal.
That came from the move of the day. Lena Tice – an Irish senior international in both hockey and cricket – was the instigator, spotting a pass through a defender’s legs to Ella Collins. She slipped to Cullen to slot home from five yards.
Muckross had started the brighter with Aoife McNulty winning an early corner. But Gerard’s were in front from their first attack of note, the hugely influential Tice stepping into midfield to great effect.
Gerard’s were to create the biggest chances for the most part and went close to a second when Sarah O’Loughlin drifted left from her spot at right mid, beating a few open side tackles before unleashing a reverse.
Muckross were having plenty of the play with Niamh Shaw – still a junior – exceptional in midfield but their chances were less clear-cut. With the gap the minimum, though, the Donnybrook side did get closer and closer to tying things up with a Shaw pass flashing across the face of goal and McNulty’s shot drew a powerful boot from Eleanor Dunne.
And the goalkeeper did brilliantly to save, pretty much with her neck protector, from a corner deflection in the last minute from Emer Clarke’s shot to cling on to the victory.
Alex and St Gerard’s will meet in the final on February 25 at 2.30pm.
Leinster Schoolgirls Senior Cup, semi-finals: St Gerard’s 1 (M Cullen) Muckross Park 0; Alexandra College 1 (F McDermott) Loreto Foxrock 0