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Players pose exam headache for President's Cup finalists

 

By John Flack

Queen's University and Randalstown are resigned to being without several key players for the President's Cup final, which is scheduled for Havelock Park on Wednesday May 17.

The students staged a memorable comeback in Saturday's semi-final as three goals in the final eight minutes - two from Irish international Jessica McMaster - saw them overturn a 2-0 interval deficit to beat Premier League champions Lurgan 4-2.

For the first time, the final of the competition, a repeat of last year's showpiece, is being held as the first part of a double-header alongside the men's Anderson Cup decider

However, Queen's could be without as many as eight regulars due to examinations the following day and Randalstown may be short around half a dozen for a combination of reasons, including study and work commitments.

Queen's will be contesting their fourth final in the past two seasons, having lost all three of the previous games but now it seems their chances of avenging last year's President's Cup defeat by Town will be more seriously affected unless a solution can be found.

On Saturday, Simon Bell's team produced a superb second-half display after trailing to goals from Pippa Best and Emma Lindsay at the break as they ruined Lurgan's chances of completing an unprecedented clean sweep of domestic trophies.

Rachel Henderson started the comeback with a penalty-corner conversion in the 50th minute and then Tori Hastings finished off a fine move in style with eight minutes remaining.

Within 60 seconds, McMaster made it 3-2 with an excellent backhand shot from the top of the circle.

She got her second in less spectacular fashion finding the empty net after Lurgan had withdrawn their goalkeeper in an unsuccessful last-ditch effort to force extra-time.

Meanwhile, Ulster retained the junior inter-provincial title at Stormont yesterday after Ards player Francesca Brown scored the all-important goal from a late penalty stroke in a decisive 1-0 win over Leinster.

Ulster went into the game needing nothing short of victory to pip Leinster on goal difference after losing 3-2 to Munster on Saturday.

  • President's Cup semi-final: Lurgan 2 (Best, Lindsay) Queen's 4 (Henderson, Hastings, J McMaster 2); junior inter-pros: Saturday: Connacht 0 Ulster 2 (McIlwaine, C Reid); Leinster 1 Munster 0; South East 1 Connacht 0; Ulster 2 (Brown, McIlwaine) Munster 3; SE 0 Leinster 1; Sunday: SE 0 Munster 4; Leinster 1 Connacht 0; Ulster 1 (McCallion) SE 0; Munster 1 Connacht 4; Ulster 1 (F Brown) Leinster 0.

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