Women’s Irish Hockey Challenge Final

Dromore 1 (C Whan) Clonmel 0

Chelsey Whan’s sweet penalty corner finish propelled Domore to their second ever women’s Irish Hockey Challenge title as they edged out Clonmel at Serpentine Avenue 1-0.

The Challenge – formerly the May Costley Cup – is Irish hockey’s most unpredictable competition and Dromore became the tenth different winner in the last 10 years, adding to their success in 2008.

They did it in style, working lovely patterns in their forward lines while stifling Clonmel’s attacking threats for long periods with a controlled display.

Indeed, they bossed the first half but could not make that superiority count. Four penalty corners were charged down by the tight-knit Clonmel defence with Katie McDonald shooting over from the follow-up of their first corner 10 minutes in.

The interchanges between Emma Wilson, Hannah Buchanan and Emer Melville were causing problems but they kept running into defensive brick walls with Betty Barlow a key figure in shutting them out.

And, on the break, the Tipperary outfit did have their moments with Jill Shanahan the focal point of their attack. She raced through and turned on a six-pence to open up a shooting chance but it flashed wide of the right post.

The pick of the Dromore openings came two minutes before half-time but Ana Clarke could not get full force behind her shot and the confident Jenny O’Brien booted clear, leaving it 0-0 at half-time.

The second half followed a similar pattern with Dromore holding most of the play with their forward triangle causing problems but Susan Meaney’s side were resolute in their task.

Again, Shanahan almost latched onto breaking ball in the circle for Clonmel but they were eventually caught in the 51st minute.

It came following a wave of attacks which led to a penalty corner. Clonmel broke the line, reducing the numbers for the set piece, and Dromore cleverly worked the ball around the circle to Katie McDonald. She arrowed across from right to left where Whan was waiting to gleefully sweep home.

From there, they looked the more likely to kick on and make the game safe until the last five minutes when Clonmel produced a rousing volley of attacks with plenty of long balls wreaking havoc.

And they thought they had their equaliser from their sole penalty corner. It was switched to the injector by Barlow to Maeve Murphy who struck crisply first time but Eve Hughes brilliantly got across to save with her knee.

With that scare over, Dromore regained their composure to stay clear to the final whistle with some calm work, running down the time for a famous win.

Dromore: E Hughes, H Hanna, A Clarke, T Malcolmson, C Whan, S Wilson, N Laverty, E Mills, K McDonald, J Carson, H Buchanan, R Dougan, A Hughes, T Wilson, A McMullan, E Wilson, T Kelly, E Melville

Clonmel: J O’Brien, K Ronan, A Deely, B Barlow, E O’Dea, P Corcoran, R Boland, G Boland, S Meaney, M Mulcahy, B Ryan, R Moroney, K O’Sullivan, H Ronan, A Browne, M Murphy, C O’Connor, J Shanahan, N Boyle

Umpires: J Fisher, P Shields



Men’s Irish Hockey Challenge Final

Ballynahinch 4 (W Edgar 2, M Martin, S Leetch) Limerick 3 (V Biais 2, N Eacrett)

Willie Edgar produced two pieces of individual brilliance to win the men’s Irish Hockey Challenge final for Ballynahinch at Serpentine Avenue in a superb display of expansive attacking hockey against Limerick.

It saw them retain the title in style, making it three wins overall in this competition since 2012.

Intent from both sides was clear from the very start with Max Clein deflecting just wide for Limerick in the opening seconds while Hinch’s Alex Millar had two big chances almost immediately.

It went back and forth at break-neck speed with goals soon starting to flow. Limerick skipper Nathan Eacrett picked out a lovely diagonal ball into the path of Victor Biais who controlled on the spin to open the chance and then flicked in beautifully.

Hinch swapped the lead with barely 18 minutes gone as Matthew Martin’s thunderous shot equalised and then Scott Leetch finished off for 2-1 at the right post after a left-wing cross caused havoc.

Biais was not long waiting for his second goal, however, as Nick Lampp’s free just outside the 23m line opened the door and the striker picked out the top corner with a flick by Aaron Donnell – 2-2 at half-time.

The Ulster side, though, always look the more composed side with former Inst man Martin and Edgar having that touch of class to go with it.

The second half was slightly tighter but Hinch started to run up the corner count, necessitating lots of rearguard work from Justin Scheffel and his defensive team.

Limerick kept out seven set pieces but parity ended when Edgar went on a virtuoso run down the right channel and pulled off an audacious scoop which went in off the stanchion of crossbar and post.

That was with 13 minutes to go and he made it 4-2 a minute later, this time weaving his way out of traffic and selling the goalkeeper a dummy before rolling into an open net.

Nathan Eacrett slammed in a reverse from Limerick’s only penalty corner with five minutes to go, making things lively for the latter stages. But Ballynahinch had the nous to see out the endgame and lift the crown for a third time.

Ballynahinch: A Donnell, S Crean, T Crean, S Hunter, A Brown, L Harrison, R Coffey, M Martin, A Millar, W Edgar, J Campbell, S Leetch, L Curry, A Mulholland, M Brown, D Marshall, M Carney, J Higginson, A McIlwaine

Limerick: J Scheffel, S Lilburn, C Oggel, N Eacrett, Q Eacrett, A Smith, D Kelly, E Hannon, J Smith, C Duggan, B Smyth, N Lampp, A Khan, V Biais, M Clein, D Potts

Umpires: S Jenkins, D Pearson

Stephen Findlater