UCC’s meeting with Bandon in Munster’s Peard Cup final was a novel decider with EY Hockey League outfit Cork C of I — who had won 40 of the 56 previous finals — not participating this year. Both sides were looking for their maiden title but the students won out 4-2. Bandon led at the break after a sleepy opening half in which Darren Beamish looked the game’s liveliest player, Dave Smith getting a touch to Clinton Sweetnam’s drag-flick.
It took College some time to level in the final third and it came from an unlikely source, left-back John Catchpole scrambling home his first of the season.
But from there they kicked on in style. Shrew Power’s clever approach work and Peter Catchpole’s calmness paid dividends, the latter taking his time before teeing up skipper Fionn O’Leary to flip over Ian Hosford.
O’Leary made it 3-1 almost immediately when his tame deflection went in off a Bandon defender attempting to clear, but the west Cork men hit back with a series of short corners and Sweetnam dragged under Peter Coulter at the fifth time of asking.
They pushed for a leveller but in the final minute, Sam Grace found Greg Chambers with an outrageous 70-yard pass and the College club captain won a cheap corner. Grace stepped up with a howitzer of a drag-flick to finish the tie off.
In Leinster, Railway Union claimed the Neville Cup after a helter-skelter 4-3 final success over Monkstown. Railway were three goals to the good after just 19 minutes against the national champions, who showed their pedigree in fighting back to 3-3, inspired by Ian Horsfield.
But Polish underage international Mateuesz Nowakowski nicked it for the Park Avenue men in the second half, as his touch from Richard Forrest’s cross picked out the top corner.
In Ulster, Instonians had too much in the tank for Mossley, winning 8-2 in the Kirk Cup final.
Zoe Wilson capped a fine 2015 by helping Randalstown to a Denman Shield success, her side defeating Queen’s University on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
Wilson, who is set to earn her first senior cap on Ireland’s tour to Spain next month, helped Ireland U18s win the European B division this summer before moving to the USA and helping New York’s Syracuse University win their maiden NCAA championship.
Returning to her former club’s colours during her winter break from America, she scored Randalstown’s second-half equaliser to help force extra-time and the shootout.