Catholic Institute move to hockey’s top table after shoot-out win
Limerick side beat Queen’s to complete impressive season and gain promotion
Queen’s have a second chance to win promotion when they take on Muckross next Sunday in Banbridge. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Limerick will play host to the Hockey League next season for the first time after Catholic Institute completed a near-flawless campaign by beating Queen’s in a shoot-out in Sunday’s IHL 2 play-off final in Dublin to qualify for the top tier of the competition.
Institute had topped their pool by winning seven and drawing one of their eight games before advancing to Saturday’s play-off semi-finals, where they came from a goal down to beat Trinity 3-2. Queen’s, meanwhile, got the better of Monkstown, Jessica McMaster’s early goal proving to be the only score of the game.
But Institute’s promotion prospects looked bleak enough by the half-hour mark, by which time they were 2-0 down to Queen’s, and although they levelled the game through Róisín Upton and Laura Foley, they found themselves trailing again with 10 minutes to go. Upton, though, produced another equaliser from a penalty corner, forcing the game into a shoot-out. And it was Upton (twice) and Foley again who converted their efforts to give Institute a 3-2 sudden-death victory.
Queen’s, though, have a second chance to win promotion when they take on Muckross next Sunday in Banbridge, the Dublin side giving themselves a chance of retaining their Hockey League status when they had looked certs for automatic relegation with just four games to go. It is Ards, then, who are relegated, their 2-1 defeat by Cork Harlequins on Saturday sealing their fate, while Muckross picked up another point with a draw against UCD.
Harlequins’ victory, combined with Pembroke Wanderers’ draw against Old Alexandra, saw them leapfrog Pembroke in to fourth and claim a place in next weekend’s Champions Trophy semi-finals for the third successive season. And just like last year, Hockey League champions Pegasus, Loreto – who beat Harlequins in last year’s final – and UCD join them in the last four. The pairings are different this time around, though, Pegasus taking on the Cork side while Loreto meet UCD.
Hockey League: Belfast Harlequins 3 (G Frazer, R Johnston, Z Wilson), Pegasus 3 (K Miller, C Harvey, C McKane); Cork Harlequins 2 (O Roycroft, Y O’Byrne), Ards 1 (A Benson); Muckross 1 (Y Pratt), UCD 1 (S Patton); Old Alexandra 3 (A Connery 3), Pembroke Wanderers 3 (C Foley 2, G Pinder); Railway Union 0, Loreto 1 (G Donald).
Hockey League 2 Play-offs – Semi-finals: Queen’s 1 (J McMaster), Monkstown 0; Catholic Institute 3 (L Foley, K Daly, L Cleary), Trinity 2 (I Delamer, A Burns). Final: Catholic Institute 3 (R Upton 2, L Foley), Queen’s 3 (E Getty, A Jebb, K Ferguson). Institute won 3-2 in a shoot-out.