Finals come to Three Rock

by Stephen Findlater
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THREE Rock Rovers hockey club on the Grange Road is set to host the marquee event in the sport’s calendar as they host the finals weekend of the Irish Hockey League.
The Dublin 16 venue will see four of the island’s best men’s and women’s teams contest the competition’s semi-finals on Saturday afternoon before the finals take place on Sunday with the men on at 4pm and the women tipping off at 1.30pm.
The club is set to be transformed with a stand being erected in front of the clubhouse for what promises to be a high quality display of the sport.
Among the finalists are Loreto, from nearby Beaufort, who qualified on the women’s side from the group stages along with fellow Dublin side Railway Union from pool A.
They both eased into the semi-final berths, eliminating Ulster champions Pegasus and Hermes in the process by producing four-goal wins that put them very much in the contenders bracket for the overall title.
With Railway’s tip-off time against Hermes delayed due to a pitch-watering malfunction, Loreto were the first to seal their ticket as they ran amok against the Ulster Elks.
Lyn Brown had put the northern side in front but Nicci Daly replied in kind before the first quarter was out and a stellar second stanza saw the Beaufort side virtually home as Jessica McGirr, Niamh Small and Rachel Keegan extended the advantage to 4-1.
Ali Meeke closed out the tie with the only goal of the second half to confirm Loreto as the leaders of an ultra-competitive group.
Railway, meanwhile, wasted little time after their delay against Hermes as Zara Delany nipped onto a lovely through ball by Alex Speers before the striker steadied herself and lifted over the advancing Emma Gray.
Hermes subsequently survived being reduced to nine players and conceding two penalty corners but Jean McDonnell did make them pay when she flicked home from a narrow angle on the backline, working her way past Sinead McCarthy in the corner.
Emma Smyth added two more in the second half, starting it in blistering fashion. Delany instigated the first with Smyth getting a touch on her shot to redirect home and the fourth came from a nice interchange between Speers and Kate Lloyd down the right. The ball was worked through Sinead Dooley and McDonnell before Smyth finished into an open goal
Hermes had some big chances late on but none was capitalised upon, leaving them fourth in the group. Pegasus, though, were the most frustrated side as they battled to victory in Limerick but ended up a point shy of Railway in third place.

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