Cork Harlequins win shoot-out 2-1
Lorna Bateman won one of the few titles her father Ivan did not as the goalkeeper produced a shoot-out masterclass to land a second Irish Senior Cup crown for Cork Harlequins.
It was their first since 2000, a remarkable feat in a week of famous comebacks, the Farmers’ Cross side looked dead and buried at half-time only to storm back from 2-0 down at half-time.
It showed incredible belief for one of the youngest sides ever to grace this stage. Quins always knew they would be without Irish international Yvonne O’Byrne who is in camp with the Green Army.
But Cliodhna Sargent’s ACL injury – sustained in the semi-final win over Pegasus – and Rebecca Barry’s unavailability meant they took the field with eight schoolgirls in their matchday squad.
And they made a timid start with Niamh Small fired a brilliant ball across from the right to Sarah Evans who swivelled out of a tackle and unleashed a low reverse-stick bullet into the bottom corner.
Small’s inclusion showed the difference in experience Loreto could call on to step in as she and fellow former international Caitriona O’Kelly came into the panel in place of the absent Sarah Torrans, Ali Meeke, Hannah Matthews and Nicci Daly.
And Quins looked shell-shocked when Caitlin Sherin provided the right wing cross for Aoife Taaffe to step in for 2-0 just 11 minutes in.
At this stage, the Cork side looked fearful while their rejigged defence were shipping plenty of pressure and loose turnovers.
But coach Darren Collins – a Liverpool fan who has plenty if inspiration to draw on – extracted a huge reaction from his troops as they suddenly found mountains of self-belief and a warrior spirit typefied by Emma Barber.
Michelle Barry hoovered up a rebound created by Caoimhe Perdue’s shot seven minutes into the second half from the first corner of the game.
And they had their leveller in similar fashion when Barber struck and Olivia Roycroft cashed in with 10 minutes to go.
In between, Barber showed real guts to clear off the line from a rare Loreto break-out while the Quins defence scrambled to clear a last second penalty corner.
It sent the tie to a shoot-out where Roycroft’s shot somehow dribbled over the line in the first round. Bateman saved three times in a row before Sherin equalised.
But Barry retook the lead in the last round with a stunning volley, laying the platform for Bateman's last act. A week ago, Sara Twomey was denied in the EY Champions Trophy final by the width of a post in Loreto’s defeat to Pegasus.
This time her shot clipped the inner thigh of Batemen and spun mere centimetres past the post, sparking the Quins wild celebrations.
Loreto: L Murphy, S Evans, H Mulcahy, M Jennings,, G McLoughlin, C Sherin, N Small, G Donald, C Hamill, S Clarke, C O’Kelly
Subs: K Crotty, S O’Brien, S Twomey, A Taaffe, O Brady, A Carragher
Cork Harlequins: L Bateman, E O’Donoghue, N Barry, S Murphy, E Barber, C Perdue, O Roycroft, J O’Halloran, M Barry, J Murphy, E O’Leary
Subs: Z Bowles, S Griffin, S Uniacke-Lowe, I Burns, N O’Leary, A O’Grady, B Maye
Umpires: L Clifford, C Metchette