Girls Under 16 Interpro Final – sponsored by Uniphar
Ulster 2-2 Leinster
Ulster win penalty shootout 2-1
A big crowd was treated to a thriller in the sunshine at UCD as Ulster and their never-say-die attitude held sway in a wonderful finale to the Girls Under 16 Interprovincial final sponsored by Uniphar. Twice they came from behind in regular time. And they were behind in the shootout as well – but Davy Menaul’s team prevailed to lift the trophy.
It all started tamely enough with both defenses on top in the first half. Just before the end of the 2nd quarter, Leinster made the breakthrough, and it came from their 2nd penalty corner. Isobel Field’s shot was deflected in by Lauryn Barry past Anna Wilson in the Ulster goal, their territorial dominance in the second quarter finally getting tangible reward, breaching the Ulster defense for the first time in nearly four and a half games in this interprovincial campaign.
But back came Ulster, Erin Pim’s solo run lighting up a final that was so much better in the second half. Pim slalomed her way past two defenders into the circle and finished superbly to deservedly tie up the game at 1-1.
In the final seconds of the 3rd quarter, Leinster went ahead again from another penalty corner. Having been on top for the previous 10 minutes, they fully deserved that lead, Field’s shot flicked in by Hollaí Quinn for her 4th goal of the campaign. At that stage it looked like Leinster might go on and win the title – both displaying the kind of hockey that augurs well for the future of the women’s game in Ireland.
Ulster again refused to buckle. Their high press forced mistakes
In the Leinster defense, centre forward Katie Herron’s strong run into the circle leading to her side’s 3rd penalty corner, Joni Cunningham the hero as her shot beat Jones in goal. The game tied up now at 2-2 and both sides running on fumes after giving everything in a pulsating final.
Near the end, player of the match Isobel Field nearly put Leinster ahead, denied by a fine stop by Lola Henderson in the Ulster goal. So 2-2 it was and the drama of the shoot out had the large attendance on the edges of their seats.
Leinster Captain Sarah Byrne put Leinster in front but only after Umpire Fiona Davitt ordered a retake; Ulster’s Katie Herron tied it up at 1-1; there then followed 7 missed penalties in a row that showed how good Leinster’s Grace Jones and Ulster’s Lola Henderson are at shot stopping.
Ulster’s Kate Spillane, the 10th penalty taker, had the opportunity to seal the win for Ulster – and she duly obliged as her side won an absorbing match that will live long in the memory of those lucky enough to see it – what an advertisement for the Under 16 game!