Munster girls snatch memorable win

Hockey: Munster’s U-16s produced a memorable performance to get their schoolgirls interprovincial championship off to a flying start as they beat Ulster for the first time in a decade.

Amy Buttimer and Lauren Egan gave them a 2-0 lead and while Katie McKee got one back for the northern province, it could not deny Ger O’Carroll’s team a fine result.

It owed much to Hannah Humphreys’ first half efforts between the posts, keeping it scoreless at the interval before they grabbed their two swift counter-attack goals.

The province’s U18 side also got off to a good start, twice coming back from a goal down against Leinster to tie 2-2 with Michelle Barrett holding her nerve to score the equalising penalty stroke with just under four minutes remaining.

Ava Beatty and Freya McDermott had twice put Leinster in front in the second period only to be pegged back first by Louise Egan’s deft touch to Becky Danaher’s sweep shot and then Barrett’s last ditch penalty.

Both teams face three more ties over the course of the weekend in pursuit of the respective titles.

In Munster’s women’s division one, UL will hope to have a considerably stronger panel at their disposal than the eight players that lined out last weekend in a harrowing 28-0 loss to Cork C of I. They host UCC tomorrow.

On the men’s side, Cork C of I fly the Munster flag in the Irish Senior Cup and welcome Rathgar to Garryduff for the first time, the Dublin club having only playing in the competition for the second time.

C of I will hope to get more game time out of former internationals John Jermyn and player coach David Hobbs to bring their experience to a side that fell to a goal-hungry Banbridge a week ago in the Irish Hockey League.

Both have had limited availability of late but Rathgar are a vastly different prospect to Bann and are yet to register a point in their provincial league.

Thus, the likes of Andy Gray and Simon Wolfe could make hay against a side notoriously shy on firepower.

They are the last remaining Muster side in the draw, one which looks fairly inviting for Leinster sides. The pick of the ties sees Pembroke – with a larges former C of I contingent – take on Instonians in Dublin 4.

Pembroke snapped up Midleton graduate Nick Burns this season from UCD and he has been the key man to fill the goalscoring boots of Alan Sothern who has taken up a professional contract in Belgium with Racing Bruxelles.

Burns has netted five in six outings to date and is quickly establishing himself as the go-to man along with Irish international Maurice Elliott.

The Ulster derby is another potential cracker with Banbridge hosting Cookstown at Havelock Park while reigning champions Three Rock Rovers will expect to be too strong for UCD.

In the Munster league, Bandon take on Limerick in the sole game on the agenda.

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