Wednesday 23 January 2019

Super sub Maginn books Alex final date after thriller

Alexandra College and Wesley played out one of the most remarkable of schools ties in recent memory -- a hectic, non-stop nerve-wracker last Saturday, which never had more than one goal separating the sides.

The quality of the forward play was breath-taking but it was Alex who got the odd goal in nine to set up a final date with St Andrew's.

The Booterstown school had a much more comfortable route to the decider, netting twice from play and twice from corners.

At Milltown, Wesley started forcefully, pinning Alex back for the first quarter, earning a couple of corners before Alex bounced back with Hannah McDermott (pictured below) and Deirdre Duke the creative forces.

One such drive fell to Grainne Mulkerrin in the second phase and she used delightful skills to clear some space before firing home the only goal of the first half.

But the fun truly began in the second half. Sarah Robinson cracked home a corner to level for the first time, only for an instant riposte which saw McDermott reversing brilliantly for 2-1.

Lauren McGrane, the corner injector, was the next to tie the game up when she completed a well-worked move, showing the Ballinteer school's prowess from set-pieces.


Anna Roopnarasingh put Alex back in front as the final 10 minutes approached, scrambling home from close range, and that advantage lasted until four minutes to go when Anna May Whelan forced the game into extra time.

Her strike from a short corner switch move was not the cleanest of strikes from the right of the circle but it had the requisite power and bounce to find a path into the net.

Wesley almost stole the lead for the first time when they won a penalty corner on the final hooter. They sent all their players forward and, given their prior danger from set-pieces, it looked a golden chance to nick a winner. But Emily Beatty raced off the line to block the shooting opportunity to ensure time added on.

Alex took full advantage of the reprieve two minutes into extra time as Irish U18 star Duke produced a devastating turn to beat two defenders on her way into the circle, broke right and flicked high into the goal past the advancing Robyn Pim.

They reached half-time a goal ahead but three minutes into the second period, Niamh Sweeney's superb reverse-stick effort made it even for an incredible fourth time.

Alex, though, closed out the game in thrilling fashion. Duke went close when she dived full-length in her endeavours to deflect an equaliser, over-extending herself to the extent that she was forced off injured for the closing two minutes.

Her replacement, Ciara Maginn, proved the heroine, emerging from the bench to tap-in at the near post with scarcely 60 seconds remaining for 5-4.

The drama was not done, however, as Wesley launched one final surge with Hannah Honner flying forward, rounding the goalkeeper but her shot was somehow denied by the covering Amy Ryan on the final whistle.

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