Church of Ireland rallied back to land a first title since 2015

Church of Ireland rallied back to land a first title since 2015
Picture: Dave Meehan

Church of Ireland 4 Greenfields 2

IF CHURCH of Ireland had lost this Irish Hockey Trophy final on Saturday they would still be scratching their heads as to how it happened.

But at half-time it was a real possibility as they were 2-0 down, despite having dominated the first-half at the Pembroke Wanderers Hockey Club.

It looked like being one of those days where no matter what they did they weren’t going to score. But, led by the likes of their captain Nicola Kerr, Julie Coyne, Hannah Honner and Kirsty Coombes they turned it around and won their IHT title, the last coming in 2015.

Special mention must also be made of Amy Roberts and Orla Crowley, the only two players who have been on all three squads that won the title.

Afterwards Nicola was proud to have captained the side but said they made it hard for themselves, particularly in the first half.

“It’s hard to sum that game up, I think we like to put ourselves under pressure before we start playing our best hockey. We did it again today, we were slow to get going, despite dominating early on.

“Some of our passing wasn’t at the level it should have been and then when they scored on the break our heads went down a bit and then when they got the second a bit further.

“But we had a few words at half-time and came out much better in the second half and started playing the way we can. We weren’t going home without the cup today and there was a determination to make sure we weren’t.

“Once we got the first goal that was it for me, I just felt we were going to win then and we dominated for long periods of the second half. To have come back to the club this season, where my family have been involved for years, and be made captain was an honour for me.

“But to lift the cup on behalf of the team and the club was an unbelievably feeling and one that I am so proud to have done. Hopefully it’s the start of bigger and better things for the club going forward,” concluded Nicola.

Church of Ireland started much the better of the two sides and for the first few minutes, Greenfields couldn’t get the ball out of their circle, not to mind their own half.

This early pressure resulted in CoI getting four short corners, but they failed to make any of them count and though this was still early in the game it was a worrying factor at that point.

They went on to have eight in the half and failed to score from any of them, which is not a stat that you would normally associate with them.

The nearest they come to scoring from the four, in the first four minutes, was a shot from Mel Ryan that went narrowly wide.

It took Greenfields five minutes to get anywhere near the CoI circle and when they did they made it count.

A defensive mix-up let Alacoque McGovern in and her shot literally trickled over the line, despite the best efforts of Sarah Wrixon to clear.

Despite going a goal down CoI continued to dominate possession-wise, with Coyne leading by example.

Their fifth short corner saw another Ryan effort saved as the Greenfields defence were kept under pressure.

Again, against the run of play, Greenfields got their second when Meabh Holden scored, following some good work by Kelly Dunleavy to see them lead 2-0 at half-time.

The second half was virtually all played in the Greenfields half, with their keeper Sinead Collins, making a number of good saves in the first few minutes.

However the relentless pressure eventually paid off, when a quick free by Kerr found Honner and she coolly slotted home to make 2-1.

Twenty-two minutes into the second half and they were back on level terms, when Kay Gaffney scored from their 13th short corner of the game.

They kept up the constant pressure and they were deservedly in front, with eight minutes to go when Hollie Moffett set up Honner for her second of the tie.

With three minutes to go, they secured the win when a brilliant run from Coombes saw her beat several defenders to give Collins no chance to save and soon afterwards the celebrations began.

Picture: Dave Meehan
Picture: Dave Meehan

Scorers for Church of Ireland: H Honner (2), K Gaffney, K Coombes.

Greenfields: A McGovern, M Holden.

CHURCH OF IRELAND: S Wrixon, H Sweetnam, N Kerr, L McHugh, C Sexton, R Kingston, O Crowley, A Roberts, A O’Mahony, J Coyne, E O’Hara, H Moffett, Sbaker, H Honner, K Coombes, M Ryan, K Gaffney, J Barry.

GREENFIELDS: S Collins, S Dunleavy, K Dunleavy, Rgilligan, A McGovern, C Moore, T Garrett, S Tierney, J Anderson, A Finnerty, E O’Connor, C Elliott, A Hennessy, M Holden, A O’Toole, A Collins, S Burke, J Langan.

Umpires: C Brophy and R Christie.

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