Emily Kealy’s goal sees Loreto Beaufort end Senior Cup drought
Coach Hannah Matthews adds another medal to collection after first title in a decade
For Beaufort’s Hannah Matthews, she already had her place in the record books thanks to her winner in the 2008 final and she now has a head coach’s medal to her name.
“It is so much worse watching, let me tell you!” she said of the emotions with her nerves well and truly shredded.
“I wish I was out there on the pitch! The girls did brilliantly, they held their nerve all the way through. Newpark were really tough to play against and it could have gone either way.”
Matthews was one of two young female coaches marshalling their sides with both her and Anna Richardson under 30, probably the first time this has happened in this storied competition.
And it was a largely tactical battle that played out with Milly Lynch and Lauren Moore propelling Newpark’s moves from the spine of their side while Beaufort were more expansive via Kealy and Olivia Brady.
Nonetheless, it was entertaining fare. The decision by the schoolgirls committee to move the tie to a Sunday from its regular midweek slot caused something of a stir.
The plan was to open the marquee event up to a wider cross-section of the hockey public and they were rewarded with a vibrant Sunday afternoon crowd providing constant noise and colour to the occasion.
Chants of “ooh, aah, Erika” were loudest as the Newpark goalkeeper Erika Gallagher as the transition year student repelled everything that came her way until that final stroke.
Incredibly, she had not conceded in four rounds of the cup, including two shoot-outs in the quarter and semi-finals, but she could do nothing Kealy’s wonderfully composed finish, awarded when Aisling Murray’s hit was blocked by a Newpark body en route to goal.
It came from their fifth penalty corner. For Newpark, Zoe Watterson went within inches of an opening goal in the first minute while Jennifer Sheehan had the best of their second half chances but could not flick by Ciara Griffin.
Beaufort, though, closed out the tie well once they got the lead and now have the chance of All-Ireland glory in March.
Loreto HS, Beaufort: C Griffin, S Dalton, R Flynn, G Wright, K Quinlivan, E O’Neill, R McLoughlin, E Kealy, G O’Connor, H Kennedy, E Tobin, A Kennedy, C Evans, O Meagher, O Brady, L Hayes, A McCabe, A Murray
Newpark Comprehensive: E Gallagher, A Paul, M Lynch, J Whelan, M O’Connor, A Grogan, L Adams, L Moore, D Rankin, J Sheahan, O Gul, L Bennett, Z Watterson, S Hamilton, I Hamilton, L Tierney, S Hudson Fowler
Umpires: C Daly, S Canning