Cork Harlequins found national glory out of reach for the second season running as Loreto’s corner efficiency saw the Dubliners come from behind to land the EY Champions Trophy.
Michelle Barry’s weekend heroics had given them their final shot, scoring twice in normal time in their semi-final win over Pegasus as well as in the shoot-out success.
She followed up with a 14th-minute opener in yesterday’s final but smart finishes from Nicci Daly and Mia Jennings put Loreto in front. From there, they were immaculate in defence to give up next to nothing in their 23-metre zone, holding on for the victory.
The win came something out of the blue for Loreto coach Paul Fitzpatrick who had originally scheduled a holiday for this weekend when it looked like his side were out of the running for the top four.
But a late-season run of results saw them sneak into the play-offs on the final day of the regular campaign, and Loreto duly produced the goods on the biggest stage.
For Cork Harlequins’ coach Stephen Dale, it was another tough final outing in the wake of 2017’s Irish Senior Cup final defeat.
“You could ask for no more today,” Dale said afterwards. “It’s really fine lines that win tight games; they two got two penalty corners and scored both.
“We didn’t get any, and sometimes that’s the difference.
“Maybe you have to lose a few to win one and maybe that’s the difference. I hate saying it but we are probably a little bit green on that side of things.”
He saw Barry break the deadlock 14 minutes in. It wasn’t the cleanest of strikes but her propensity to shoot early caught out Pegasus on Saturday and it did for Alannah Carragher in the final, going in off the goalkeeper’s instep before she had time to set herself.
Loreto replied before half-time through a clever corner move, Sarah Clarke disguising a pass to Daly to pop home.
And then early in the second half, Jennings got the touch to lift up and over Emma Buckley.
After that, Quins really needed an extra midfielder but were shorn of the services of Julia O’Halloran and Nicola Kerr through injury with Dale admitting the move to drop Rebecca Barry back into midfield probably took some punch from their forward line.
While they piled on the pressure late in the game, Hannah Matthews was superb in gobbling up the scraps and seeing out the win.
In the men’s final later in the evening, Three Rock Rovers won for the second successive season, beating Glenanne 2-1. Peter Blakeney had them 1-0 up at half-time before Shannon Boucher equalised with 10 minutes left.
Jody Hosking, however, scored the winner with 48 seconds to go for an astonishing six trophies this season.
WOMEN’S EY CHAMPIONS TROPHY FINAL:
Loreto 2 (N Daly, M Jennings) Cork Harlequins 1 (M Barry)
A Carragher, A Meeke, S O’Brien, H McLoughlin, C Sherin, N Small, S Torrans, C Hamill, H Matthews, S Clarke, N Daly Subs:
S Evans, H Mulcahy, M Jennings, H McDermott, J McGirr, A Taaffe, L Fitzgerald.
E Buckley, C Sargent, Y O’Byrne, R Upton, N Carroll, C Perdue, R Barry, M Barry, I Burns, E O’Leary, E Barber Subs:
S Murphy, J O’Halloran, O Roycroft, A O’Grady, R Hobbs, S Griffin, E O’Meara.
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