Thurles surprise fancied Crescent

Hockey: Ursulines Thurles announced their return to the top table in Munster Schools hockey with a 3-1 Junior Cup final win over a fancied Crescent side this week.

Having won the league game between the sides 6-2, Brian Collins’ Crescent outfit were fancied to retain one of the trophies won during last year’s “double double” of senior and junior league and cup victories.

But the Limerick side got a fright early on as Avril Bergin scored for Sandra Rossiter’s Ursulines inside the first minute, only for Niamh O’Keeffe to level for Crescent 60 seconds later.

Ciara Nyland nudged the Tipperary school ahead at half-time and although Crescent went for the jugular in the second-half, their dream died when Bergin notched her second three minutes from time.

Crescent could yet have a chance for revenge in the senior cup; they’ll take on the winner of the quarter-final replay between Ashton and Laurel Hill — who drew 2-2 in Cork yesterday — while Thurles visit Mount Mercy in the other semi-final today (1pm).

On the club front, the Irish Junior Cup takes centre stage this weekend. Cork C of I’s men will feel they have a strong claim to a crown they last won in 2009 as they host North Down, while Munster’s other round two representatives, Cork Harlequins, are in Belfast to take on Annadale.

Four Munster sides are in action in the women’s Irish Junior Cup, but only a maximum of three can advance as Cork C of I and Cork Harlequins meet in a Leeside derby at Farmer’s Cross. Louise Egan, scorer of a hat-trick in the C of I first team’s Irish Trophy win over Monkstown, and Quins’ dynamic goalkeeper Emma Buckley — a Munster U18 team-mate of Egan’s — are the players to watch.

Ashton have the task of travelling to last year’s beaten finalists Pembroke Wanderers while Bandon, who got a fine result in round one at Hermes, will look to break another Dublin side’s heart as they host Old Alex.

Two ties stand out on the domestic front, both involving UCC. Their men’s team welcome Bandon at the Mardyke with three points crucial to two sides chasing qualification for next season’s full Irish Hockey League.

Catholic Institute clash with College in a women’s Munster Senior Cup quarter-final at Rosbrien; with their league meeting down the line set to be one of a handful of fixtures that could decide the destination of the title, both will be keen to lay down a marker.


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