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Beaney is the top Peg

By John Flack

Pegasus are on course for a clean sweep of trophies after lifting the first silveware of the domestic season yesterday when they defeated Armagh by the narrowests of margins to claim the O'NE 1918 Ulster Shield at Lisnagarvey.

Suzanne Beaney grabbed the all-important goal with just eight minutes left of a game that won´t last long in the memory.

But Pegasus won't be complaining as they lifted the Shield for the first time since 2005/06 after having the edge against a resolute Armagh side who fought like tigers to keep their opponents at bay.

The competition no longer acts as a qualifier for the all-Ireland championship, as it did in the past, due to the introduction of a different set of circumstances at national level.

Pegasus missed out on both domestic titles last time around when they surrendered their Premier League crown to Ballymoney having failed to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Shield.

But they had rich consolation when they claimed the two all-Ireland trophies, beating Dublin side Hermes to win both the Irish Hockey League and the Irish Senior Cup.

Beaney was the heroine on both those occasions, scoring five goals in the process, to increase her season´s tally to a staggering 56 in all competitions.

Her heroics earned her a major accolade when she was named as Belfast Telegraph Sportswoman of the Year in recognition of her achievements in front of goal.

But due to an injury lay-off yesterday´s winner wasn´t enough to see her overhaul her team-mate Vanessa Surgeoner in the goalscoring charts as far as the current campaign is concerned.

Pegasus were back to full-strength as they not only welcomed back Beaney to their starting line-up but also another former international Nadine Brown, after both players had been sidelined through injury in recent weeks.

Another Ireland player, Emma Stewart, was listed on the bench for Armagh but was unable to play due to work commitments in England as she had to fly back before the game.

And their two-goal heroine of the semi-final win over Ballymoney, Christine Russell, was also an absentee through injury.

Pegasus had the edge in a forgettable first half in which neither side carved any clear-cut goal scoring chances.

The Belfast side won the penalty corner count 2-0 in the opening 35 minutes but failed to trouble Rhiannon McNally in the Armagh goal.

It took the favourites all of 17 minutes to earn the first award but after Beaney had earned it, the set-piece came to nothing.

Rachel Mulligan looked the most likely of the Armagh strikers to score but she failed to beat Pegasus keeper Sharon Moffett, having created a couple of one-on-one opportunities.

The second half followed a similar pattern with neither side looking particularly likely to break the deadlock.

But it was Pegasus who did so with eight minutes remaining as Beaney got on the end of an Arlene Boyles penalty corner - her team´s fourth of the half - to deflect the ball home.

Armagh had a chance to force the game into extra time near the end but Catherine Reaney´s effort missed the target and the final hooter sounder shortly afterwards, prompting a champagne celebration after Pegasus were presented with the magnificent trophy.

Belfast Telegraph


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