A last-second Hannah Matthews strike saw Cork Harlequins leave Grange Road with their hearts broken, and helped move Loreto back to the top of the women’s EY Hockey League.
The Farmers Cross side were left to rue their missed chances as they had the better of the contest’s scrappy general play, in what was a repeat of last season’s Champions Trophy final.
Much of the personnel have changed since then, with Quins losing some key players, while Loreto have recruited well.
Quins won a couple of early corners with Olivia Roycroft’s effort saved away. Another series of three set-pieces came in the final 10 minutes, but Loreto held firm and then gave a ruthless display of efficiency to score from a penalty corner right on the final hooter. Sarah Clarke slipped it to Matthews to guide into the roof of the net for a devastating late 1-0 blow.
For Loreto, it saw them move a point above Pegasus, who lost 3-2 to UCD at Belfield.
In Munster, Catholic Institute progressed their double ambitions with two comprehensive victories. They crushed Belvedere 5-0 in Ballincollig on Saturday to reach the Senior Cup final, Laura Foley netting twice.
The result puts them through to a date with UCC after they edged out Ashton 2-1 at the Mardyke, thanks to a goal each from top scorers Aoife Collins and Christina Dring. A day later, Insta beat Ashton — who started the day level on points — 6-1 in the league to make it nine wins from nine as they rapidly close in on the title.
On the men’s side, Cork C of I returned to EYHL action for the first time since the turn of the year with a tough outing against league leaders Banbridge, falling 3-2.
Josh Moffett had given Bann an early lead, but John Jermyn inspired a C of I comeback, scoring a rocket before half-time and then assisting Philip Brownlow with a monster overhead pass.
But the Co Down side turned the screw as time wore on, with Moffett and Zach McClelland turning things around. It was a strong performance from the Garryduff side though, and with Simon Wolfe making his first appearance of the season, they can take confidence that they can escape their current ninth-placed spot in the division.
In the Munster League, Cork Harlequins took another massive step toward the crown. Julian Dale scored another two goals in a 3-2 win over Bandon, reversing their Peard Cup final defeat.
They move 10 points clear at the head of the table with Waterford now the only side who can catch them. The Démen ensured it was a miserable weekend for Bandon on Sunday as Harry McCarthy and Ben Johnson landed a 2-1 win in west Cork.
With two games in hand, Waterford still need a favour from elsewhere, however, if they are to have any hope of reeling in Quins. Indeed, Quins already have their EYHL2 ticket assured for next season.