A GOOD first-half secured the Peard Cup for Church of Ireland on a sunny afternoon at Ashton.
Normally this cup final is played on St Stephen’s Day but the pandemic saw it put back until now and no doubt the large crowd watching was thankful to be watching in slightly warmer weather than normal.
The winners, who retained the cup, can be thankful for their powerful first-half performance which saw them lead 2-0 at half-time and it was enough to see them withstand the expected fightback by Harlequins.
These two clubs have enjoyed many a battle over the years and this one was no different with the likes of Ian Balding, Mark Collins, Simon Wolfe, and Rob Sweetnam the pick of their side
Quins have some good young players coming through with the Dale brothers, Andrew and Sam impressing, along with Ross Bailey and one of their veterans, John Hobbs.
Church of Ireland started brightly and were the better side early on, with Wolfe going close early on for them. It was no great surprise they took the lead 13 minutes in when Harry Jackson’s shot took a deflection off a defender to find the back of the net.
They had opportunities to increase their lead with Dave Palmer making two good saves from Sweetnam to keep it at 1-0.
However they always looked like increasing their lead and Balding made it 2-0, following their third short corner. His initial shot was saved but he was quick to follow up to rifle the ball to the roof of the net to put them two to the good at half-time.
The second half saw a much-improved performance from Quins with Bailey going close for them just 20 seconds after the re-start.
They started to dominate possession and Church of Ireland had keeper Sean Bateman to thank for a number of saves to keep his side ahead.
With 46 minutes Andrew Daunt was sent to the sin-bin for five minutes, but did he make up for it when he came back on.
He was just back on the pitch when he picked up the ball and made a run down the wing and his cross was finished off by Sweetnam to put Church of Ireland three up and it was always going to be difficult for Quins from here.
To their credit, they never gave up and Andrew Dale pulled a goal back for them with 10 minutes to go, but despite almost constant pressure, they failed to score again.
After the game, Erica Aherne presented the cup to Church of Ireland captain Phil Byrne in honour of her great grandfather JR Peard, for whom the cup is named in honour of.
Before the final UCC women’s side won the Munster Senior League title, beating Church of Ireland 3-2 in the league play-off. Goals from Rebecca Kingston, Nikky Barry, and Elva Kerr secured the win, with Emma Barber and Emma Rumley scoring for Church of Ireland.
S Bateman; S Wolfe, J Spillane, P Byrne, I Balding, P Smith, R Sweetnam, R Treacy, M Collins, N Pelow, J Bruton, A Moffett, H Jackson, C Dorgan, H Gallagher, E Finnegan, A Daunt, D Ruddock.
D Palmer; A Young, J O’Meara, J Hobbs, B Roberts, M Holland, A Dale, B Hayes-Curtin, J Black, R Bailey, R Hobbs H Brophy, H O’Byrne, S Dale, J White, J Venner, A Esteve, S Landy.
Umpires: Gary O’Connor and Jim Butler.