UCD womens hockey team brought the curtain down on an incredible season in appropriate fashion Sunday afternoon, adding the EYHL Champions trophy to their remarkable haul of silverware and ending the campaign unbeaten in the process.
A dramatic shootout victory in Saturdays semi-final against Loreto set the stage for yet another clash against constant rivals Hermes-Monkstown, in a rematch of last months EY Hockey League decider. As has come to be expected from these two, the game was an evenly matched, end to end, exciting contest which was eventually settled by the smallest of margins. The first clear cut opportunity of the final fell to UCD, captain Deirdre Duke unlucky to see her backhand volley strike the base of the post, with Monkstown keeper Liz Murphy also keeping out a number of follow up shots. The students were made to pay for failing to convert these opportunities in the 12th minute when prolific goal scorer Anna O’Flanagan swept home after some stunning individual build up play from Nikki Evans.
Despite this setback UCD continued to press and had two more opportunities before half time to draw level, Gillian Pinder went clean through on goal only to drag her effort wide and Jane O’Brien was unable to control a pass from Emma Russell after being picked out in a promising position.
The second half began on a bad note, with Sarah Patton taking a nasty looking blow to the knee in the process of blocking a Monkstown corner. Thankfully the next corner of the game had a much more positive outcome for the students when Russell snatched a scrappy equaliser, showing great predatory instincts to turn in an off target attempt from Lena Tice at the back post. Russell could have doubled UCDs advantage minutes later after a fine solo run from Pinder created an opportunity but her powerful effort was seen off by Murphy.
Both sides had chances to win it late on, a spectacular effort from Sinead Loughran almost restored Hermes-Monkstowns advantage, while UCD goalkeeper Clodagh Cassin was also twice called into action to deny Chloe Watkins. UCD won a late penalty corner but were unable to break down a solid opposition defence, meaning the Champions Trophy would be decided by penalties.
As with a day earlier in the semi-finals, Cassin proved the difference maker. Against Loreto she had kept a clean sheet in the shoot-out and she repeated her heroics once again in the final, denying Watkins, Ellen Curran and Rosie Carrigan in a truly brilliant individual performance from the goalkeeper. After Sarah Twomey and Katie Mullan scored for UCD, Orla Patton had the final say. She calmly converted her penalty to secure the treble and cap off a season of unprecedented success for UCD.