Having been ousted from the Irish Senior Cup by the Belfielders, Insta had revenge on their minds but they also carried a burning desire to show they belong at Irish hockey’s top table after a chastening 3-0 defeat by Hermes. To that end, a bullish post on their club Facebook page in midweek claimed a win over Leinster’s double-winners would prove they were one of the country’s top teams.
And despite going behind twice in a drama-filled encounter, an instinctive finish from birthday girl Kym Daly helped them prevail by the odd goal in five. It wasn’t enough for the Limerick girls to progress, but it meant UCD crashed out of the competition.
Belfast kingpins Pegasus were the side to benefit despite losing 3-1 at home to Pool A pace-setters Hermes, as they edged out the students by a point.
The margins were similarly fine in Pool B, where Loreto leapfrogged Railway Union into top spot despite blowing a 3-1 lead away to Ballymoney, for whom Jessica Lynch’s hat-trick earned the Antrim side a 3-3 draw.
With Railway drawing a blank on Leeside in a 0-0 draw at Cork Harlequins, they go through in second and will now play competition favourites Hermes in the last four, though Loreto won’t have it easy against recent European title winners Pegasus.
The remaining clashes were dead rubbers, with UCC going down 2-1 at home to Lurgan while Old Alex won 2-0 at Armagh.
In the men’s competition, Glenanne proved the simple tactic of a crash ball can still yield powerful dividends.
The hosts saw very little of the ball against semi-final hopefuls Banbridge in Tallaght, but Jonathan Kane’s hat-trick of deflections and an own goal helped them romp home 4-0.
That torpedoed Bann’s chance of progression although with Monkstown comfortable 4-1 winners over Cork Harlequins, the Down men would have had a mountain to climb anyway in Pool A. ‘Town progress in second place with Cookstown topping the pool by a point by virtue of their 3-3 draw with Instonians.
In Pool B, Lisnagarvey will be cursing themselves for taking their eye off the ball and allowing Pembroke Wanderers take a 3-3 draw from Hillsborough.
With YMCA romping to a 5-1 victory over Three Rock Rovers, the bonus point and boost to their goal difference proved enough for them to leapfrog ‘Garvey and take top spot.
That now pits Garvey against Cookstown — who came from a long way behind to overhaul them for Ulster league honours this term — in the last four while it’s an all-Dublin clash between YM and Monkstown.
Cork C of I finished their campaign on a high by snatching third place in Pool B with a 5-3 victory away to Annadale, Stephen Sweetnam’s quick-fire second-half double turning the clash decisively in their favour.