On Sunday Kilkenny ladies 1sts hockey team set out on a journey to defend the South East Cup which they won this time last year. This time they would have to overcome a strong challenge from Enniscorthy 1sts in a home semi-final on a cold and miserable day in Kilkenny College.
Kilkenny ladies started with a strong team consisting of Searlait Doyle (goal), Ally O’Connor, Debbie Young, Lynn
Darling (capt), Kathryn Parson, Lauren Thomas, Clair Phelan, Catriona Carey, Emma Ryan, Alice McGarry, Brona
Cadogan, Niamh Spratt and Laura Hennessy.
Enniscorthy, as always, proved to be very strong opposition. The action was on the all areas of the pitch, with quick interplay throughout. Enniscorthy really applied the pressure on and the backline of Ally O’Connor, Debbie Young, Lynn Darling and Kathryn Parsons, who worked hard to prevent the forwards from getting into the circle and shooting. The visitors nearly went one up with a deflection from a hard ball hit into the circle, but goalkeeper Searlait Doyle got a foot to it and redirected it away.
Kilkenny began to get control of the match. They made some great moves up both sides of the pitch and were rewarded in the 20th minute with a super goal, taken on the volley by Alice McGarry. Enniscorthy weren’t going to let up and they continued to make drive at the home defence.
Kilkenny ’keeper, Searlait Doyle continued to dominate her zone and showed great confidence when faced one-on-two with the Enniscorthy forwards, diving to intercept a certain goal before the call of half-time.
The team talk at the interval by coach Emmet Hughes kept Kilkenny’s heads in the zone on what they had to do, knowing that Enniscorthy would drive at them again.
The second half exchanges were as intense as the first and produced some excellent hockey from both sides, with plenty of shots on target. Enniscorthy were beginning to lose their composure at the back. Kilkenny were awarded short corners.
Trying out their various set plays, Kilkenny were soon on the scoreboard again. This time it was with a well taken shot from team captain Lynn Darling, who struck an inch perfect ball into the corner. The visitors were not going to go down that easily. Kilkenny’s midfielders, Clair Phelan, Brona Cadogan, Niamh Spratt, Lauren Thomas and Catriona Carey had to stay strong as a unit to maintain control.
Time ran out on the visitors and the Kilkenny ladies marched into the South East Cup final.
The South East Cup final is the third one that the Kilkenny 1sts will play this season. They have already qualified for the final of the South East League, finishing on equal points with arch rivals, Wexford 1sts. They will also play in the
national final of the Irish Challenge Cup (a competition they were runners-up in last year).
The dates for those finals are - South East Cup, Sunday, March 24 in Kilkenny; Irish Hockey Challenge, Saturday, April 6 in UCD; League final provisionally set for Sunday, April 14 in Wexford.
Following the 1sts game on Sunday, Kilkenny ladies 2nds bowed out of the South East Plate competition against a
strong Wexford 2nds team, losing 2-0 in the semi-final.
Squad - Searlait Doyle (goal), Alex McClure, Gill Coady, Jane Martin, Jean Orr, Niamh Phelan, Sarah Young, Noirín Ryan, Jenny Wallace, Noreen Sweeney, Gemma Dowling, Sarah Dooley and Orla Dooley.
All at Kilkenny hockey club send best wishes to club player, Emma Ryan, for a speedy recovery after she picked up
an unfortunate injury in the 1sts game.