Pegasus make history by defeating Loreto to clinch All-Ireland double
Pegasus 1 Loreto 1 (Pegasus won shoot-out 4-2)
Pegasus completed the EY Irish Hockey League and Irish Champions Trophy double for the first time yesterday when they defeated Loreto 4-2 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw in the knockout final at Havelock Park, Banbridge.
It means that the Belfast side will take part in the top tier of European competition next year while Loreto will represent Ireland in the second division.
In a pulsating final, Pegasus looked destined to lose out to the Dublin side, who broke the deadlock with just three minutes remaining, although video replays showed that Siofra O'Brien had controlled the ball on the backhand before shooting home and it should have been disallowed.
But Pegasus got out of jail when they snatched an equaliser with just 75 seconds left through Alex Speers to force the penalty decider in which Megan Todd earned the plaudits.
Todd picked up the Goalkeeper of the Tournament award for her heroics in the match itself, the shoot-out and the semi-final.
After Shirley McCay had missed the first of the ice hockey style one-on-one run-ins, Ruth Maguire, Michelle Harvey, Kate Gourley and Taite Doherty all scored to complete a memorable campaign.
Pegasus have now become the first Ulster side to do the double, having won the regulation season title last month.
It was rearguard action for the most part in yesterday's final after another late show in Saturday's 2-1 semi-final win over Cork Harlequins when Doherty struck the decisive goal with three minutes left.
Pegasus captain Harvey said: "We absorbed a lot of pressure but kept our concentration and didn't allow our heads to drop when we fell behind.
"We had practiced penalty runs during the week and, on the day, it was a matter of who felt confident enough to step up and take them and fortunately the girls kept a cool head.
"It's been a fantastic season for us to have done the double and lifted the Ulster Shield, so all credit is due to the entire squad.
"It's great to be back in Europe again, especially as it's the top division against the best clubs in the continent, so that will be great for the players' development."
Loreto made the better start and World Cup star Nicci Daly went closest to scoring when her backhand shot hit the far post.
Another of the Dubliners' internationals, Sarah Torrans, was denied by Todd and then a goal line clearance after the break as Loreto continued to dominate and they went ahead in the 67th minute when O'Brien netted with a powerful backhand effort.
But Pegasus staged a late revival and Speers deflected home McCay's penalty corner to set up the shoot-out in which Todd stole the show with Doherty scoring the decisive goal.
Meanwhile, Queen's lost 1-0 on penalties to Muckross following a 1-1 draw in the promotion-relegation play-off to decide the final place in next season's IHL.
The students had only Jessica McMaster's goal to show for their efforts at half-time as they squandered nine penalty corners.
Emma Matthews equalised two minutes after the restart and Muckross prevailed in the shoot-out, meaning they stay up, leaving Ulster with just Pegasus and Belfast Harlequins in the top flight next season.
EY Irish Champions Trophy: Semi-finals: Pegasus 2 (L McKee, T Doherty) Cork Harlequins 1 (J O'Halloran); Loreto 2 UCD 1
Final: Pegasus 1 (A Speers) Loreto 1 (S O'Brien) Pegasus won shoot-out 4-2
Promotion-relegation play-off: Queen's 1 (J McMaster) Muckross 1 (E Matthews) Muckross won shoot-out 1-0