Catholic Institute 1 (A Hickey), Pembroke Wanderers 0
Since the inaugural Irish Senior Cup competition back in 1903 the trophy has done a fair bit of travelling around the highways and byways of Ireland, but thanks to Aoife Hickey's goal for Catholic Institute against Pembroke Wanderers at Belfield on Saturday, it now gets to visit Limerick for the very first time.
Institute had finished runners-up to Pembroke in both the Hockey League and Champions Trophy, so in denying the Dublin club a treble they were finally rewarded with silverware for what was an exceptional season for the David Passmore-coached side.
Six days before they were beaten convincingly by Pembroke, losing the Champions Trophy final 4-1, but this time around they proved much more solid defensively, Christine O'Shea an especially calming influence at the back, with captain Roisin Upton managing to pop up just about everywhere she was needed.
It was end-to-end for the bulk of the game, both sides showing remarkable levels of fitness at the end of a long season.
What turned out to be the game’s deciding moment came a minute before the end of the first quarter when Hickey superbly volleyed home Naomi Carroll’s rising cross from the right. The surprise was that it proved to be the only score of the final, the teams’ previous three meetings this season producing five goals in each.
There were plenty of near misses, though, Sally Campbell and Aisling Naughton both coming close for Pembroke in the second quarter while Amy Kate Trevor's strike from the first penalty corner of the game went just right of the post.
The ever-impressive Carroll wasn't far off adding to Institute's lead on three occasions, the best of those chances coming in the third quarter when Hannah Kelly played her through, Carroll's shot saved by Emma Buckley.
Orla Macken earned Pembroke their second penalty corner of the game but her resulting strike was well saved by Pamela Smithwick. Soon after, Institute could have doubled their lead but saw Buckley make a point blank save from Kelly, before Pembroke came agonisingly close to an equaliser when Sinead Loughran's shot went just wide of the left post.
There was a heart-in-mouth conclusion to the game for Institute when Pembroke won two more penalty corners in the dying seconds, but Anna Horan deflected Leah McGuire's first effort over the bar before Carroll charged down the same player's strike just before the final hooter sounded.
And with that, the Irish Senior Cup was off on its maiden voyage to Limerick. Worthy winners, too, at the end of a season they won’t forget in a hurry down at Rosbrien.
Catholic Institute: P Smithwick, C O'Shea, N Carroll, R Upton (capt), L Clery, E Ryan, M Barrett, A Horan, J Clein, C Moloney, M Barrett. Subs: A Hickey, H Kelly, B Murphy, M Scanlon, A Bourke, L Ryan, M O'Callaghan.
Pembroke Wanderers: E Buckley, L McGuire, A K Trevor, S Loughran, E Beatty, O Macken, E Curran, R O'Brien, I Delamer, A Naughton, G Pinder (capt). Subs: A Griffin, C Moroney, C Foley, S Campbell, T Wensley, M McCready, R Cowman.
Umpires: G Garrett and F Davitt.