C of I and Bandon edge through

Cork Church of Ireland remain on course to defend their Peard Cup crown, but only after another stern examination from traditional rivals Cork Harlequins.

Having edged them 4-3 in the league last week, C of I again made hard work of securing the win in a 6-4 success at Garryduff on Saturday.

Back post tip-ins from Philip Brownlow and Simon Wolfe plus a John Jermyn drag-flick had them 3-0 to the good after 25 minutes, but Davd Egner’s brace of goals had Quins right back in it by half-time.

C of I, though, managed to keep their noses in front through Jermyn, Philip Sweetnam and Dave Hobbs with replies from John Hobbs and Mark Black — back in action for Quins after over a year away from the game — ultimately proving academic.

The other semi-final between Limerick and Bandon proved to be a much closer affair than anticipated. Having won 11-3 in a league encounter, Bandon were expected to prevail easily but only came away from Villiers with a 3-2 success. Nonetheless, it gives them a rare appearance in the St Stephen’s Day decider.

Olivia Roycroft’s double allowed Bandon’s women to breathe a sigh of relief as they laboured to a 2-1 win over Cashel/New Inn in the women’s Division 1A playoff.

With Ashton and C of I securing their safe passage via a 0-0 draw in midweek, a play-off was required to split Bandon and Cashel but the west Cork girls’ success keeps them in the top tier while the Tipperary girls join Limerick and Fermoy in the new Division 1 Challenge.

They’ll be joined in that competition by Clonmel, Clonakilty, Waterford and Tipperary, who have qualified from Division 1B. Tipperary’s place was confirmed yesterday without them having to play, as Belvedere’s 2-0 victory over Cork Wanderers kept them in the hunt for the fifth and final place.

Lyn Murphy’s short corner rebound got them up and running before Holly Leacy’s searing pace and sweet finish helped Belvedere pay fine tribute to the club’s co-founder and former Munster Branch president John O’Connell, who passed away this week.

The upshot is that Belvedere and Wanderers must now meet again next weekend in a playoff to decide which of them will take the final berth in the Challenge, after they finished level on 15 points.

Catholic Institute’s top-of-the-table clash with UCC in Division 1A was claimed by Saturday morning’s hard frost, with the Rosbrien pitch declared unplayable.

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