Hockey: Cork Harlequins’ Kohler and Bateman hope for fairytale final
UCD are warm favourites to claim their fourth Irish Senior Cup since 2009
Cork Harlequins’ Rachael Kohler has a chance to earn her second ISC winners’ medal on Sunday. Photograph: Rowland White/Presseye/Inpho
Preview: Irish Senior Cup Final – Cork Harlequins v UCD
Time: Sunday, 1.0
When Graham Shaw names his Ireland squad for the summer’s main events, the World League semi-finals and the European Championships, between them Cork Harlequins and UCD could contribute as many as 10 to his 18-strong panel, with another eight of their players involved in the Irish under-21 set-up.
With strength in depth of that nature it’s little wonder that the two sides made it through to this year’s Irish Senior Cup final, which takes place on Sunday at Belfield (1.0).
None of that under-21 contingent was even born when Rachael Kohler and Karen Bateman were making their senior international debuts, the irrepressible 42-year-olds now preparing for their third ISC final – Kohler captained Harlequins to their first and only victory in the competition back in 2000 and Bateman was the captain three years later when they lost to Loreto.
But UCD have by far the stronger ISC pedigree in more recent times, reaching four finals in six years between 2009 and 2014, winning three of them. And while Rebecca Barry, who was on the Ulster Elks side that beat Ards on penalty strokes to take last year’s trophy, is the only Harlequins player aside from Kohler and Bateman to appear in a final, UCD have six in their squad who have been through it all before.
Add in the fact that the students are 11 points ahead of Harlequins in the Hockey League table, having drawn with them in Cork and recovered from a two-goal deficit to beat them in Dublin earlier this month, then they’ll have to carry the favourites’ tag in to Sunday’s final. Both clubs, though, know better than most how weighty such a tag that can be, with both winning their first ISCs when they were the underdogs, Harlequins beating Hermes and UCD brushing the then mighty Pegasus aside with a 4-1 triumph.
Should Harlequins get the better of the students it would produce one of hockey’s more remarkable stories, Kohler and Bateman adding a second winner’s medal to their collection 17 years after their first.
CORK HARLEQUINS (squad): E Buckley, Y O’Byrne, D Burkley, R Kohler, N Kerr, N Carroll, K Bateman, O Roycroft, K Gaffney, I Burns, N Sexton, E Cripps, M Barry, R Barry, R Upton, C Perdue, L Geyer, L Bateman. Coach: Stephen Dale.
UCD (squad): C Cassin, N Cooke, S Twomey, A Russell, L Ewart, S O’Loughlin, E Duncan, S Clarke, O Patton, E Matthews, E Russell, S Patton, G Pinder, L Tice, K Mullan, M O’Donnell, D Duke, S Robinson. Coach: Miles Warren.