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Chloe thrilled as Ards earn a final chapter

By John Flack

Published 29/02/2016

Taking aim: Ulster Elks’ Jessica McMaster goes to ground while shooting for goal
Taking aim: Ulster Elks’ Jessica McMaster goes to ground while shooting for goal

Ards are 70 minutes away from lifting the Irish Senior Cup for the first time in more than half a century after causing one of the biggest shocks of the season in dismissing Hermes from the competition in Dublin on Saturday.

Caroline Adams' side, who won on penalties after a 2-2 draw, will meet holders the Ulster Elks - comfortable 4-2 winners over UCD - in the final on March 20 in what will be the first all-local decider since 2000.

You have to go back a lot longer than that for Ards' last triumph in the competition, which came in 1963.

The Ulster champions came back from 2-0 down at the break against the star-studded Dubliners to force the shoot-out which they went on to win 4-3 with Irish international Chloe Brown playing a key role.

She scored a fabulous equaliser after Amy Benson had reduced the deficit and then kept a cool head to convert the winning penalty-stroke.

Brown said: "The girls showed great character and going 2-0 down against the IHL champions certainly didn't make life easy for us.

"But we just stuck to the game-plan we had discussed beforehand and we kept battling to get back into the match."

The Elks' win over UCD was much more straightforward as they racked up a 4-0 lead early in the second-half, two of the goals scored by Ireland captain Megan Frazer, before their student rivals hit back with two late strikes.

Frazer commented: "We knew they would come back at us because they are a good side but to get a 3-0 lead by half-time gave a great cushion.

"We are delighted to be back in the final for the second year in a row and we owe Ards one after they beat us in the IHL a few weeks ago but they are a terrific side so it's going to be difficult for us."

Results: Irish Senior Cup semi-finals: Ulster Elks 4 (G Frazer, M Frazer 2, C Mitchell) UCD 2 (K Lloyd, S Clarke); Hermes 2 (A O'Flanagan 2) Ards 2 (A Benson, C Brown) (Ards won 4-3 on pens).

Ulster Premier League: Belfast Harlequins 2 (J Watt, L Geddes) Ballymoney 0; Dungannon 2 (L Elliott 2) Lisnagarvey 2 (J Kirkwood, J Kilpatrick); Portadown 1 (L Cassells) Randalstown 6 (K McDowell 2, Z Wilson, E Patterson, J McGrillen, N Moore); Queen's 3 (J Allison, A Hutchinson, J Kee) North Down 1 (L Brown). Senior One: Ballyclare 3 (J Jones 2, S Dickey) Grosvenor 0; Raphoe 0 Ballymena 1 (C Gillespie).

Irish Hockey Trophy semi-finals: Avoca 1 Rainey 0; Bandon 3 Catholic Institute 1.

Belfast Telegraph

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