Elle Sorensen and Amy Ahearne’s nerves of steel saw Crescent win back the Munster Schoolgirls Senior Cup title over last year’s vanquishers Mount Mercy at Garryduff via a shoot-out.
The Limerick school overcame a horror start when they gift-wrapped the Model Farm Road outfit a fifth-minute opening goal. Aoife O’Driscoll could scarcely believe her luck when a ball around the back fell to her five metres from goal, but she still showed the composure to pop home.
Crescent had conceded three times in the first 13 minutes when the two sides met in December in the league, but there were no signs of a repeat yesterday.
By half-time, driving runs from deep by Anna Horan and Aoife Hickey were testing Mercy to the limits, and the Cork girls rode their luck as five penalty corner chances slipped by.
Ciara Buckley — younger sister of Irish international Emma — was outstanding between the posts with Saoirse Griffin and Jane Murphy shining further up the field.
Leah O’Shea’s shoot-on-sight policy meant the Cork school were always a threat but Crescent eventually pulled level five minutes into the second half.
Leah Clery latched on to a Horan ball down the left channel and while it looked like she would be shepherded to safety, her flick across goal took a defensive stick to roll over the line.
O’Shea’s two rising shots were the closest to a winner in normal time as the shootout beckoned. When it arrived, goalkeepers were on top early on with the first two rounds drawing a blank before Clery and Griffin traded scores, bringing it to the final round.
Sorensen coolly finished off, leaving Susie Uniacke needing to beat Ahearne but the keeper stayed on her feet to force wide, sparking raucous celebrations.
Incredibly, it was the third regional final to be decided this way, with Kilkenny College in the South East and St Andrew’s in Leinster winning via shoot-out to earn their respective Kate Russell All-Ireland Championship spots.
A Ahearne, S Barry, G Keane, E Lane, C Griffin, R Leahy, A Hickey, A Horan, S Clein, M MacNamara, L Clery, C O’Meara, A O’Byrne, S McDermott, N Griffin, E Sorensen, J Edwards, S Fitzgerald
C Buckley, L O’Shea, S Griffin, A O’Shea, S Forde, S Murphy, C O’Donnor, E O’Donoghue, J Murphy, J O’Kelly, A O’Driscoll, O Cahalane, S Uniacke, L Cripps, S Neville