Peard Cup Final
The St.Stephens day clash against Cork Church of Ireland 2nds (CofI) was to be the last act of UCC’s Hockey for 2017. They were looking to end the first half of the season and got off to the worst possible start when an early short corner was well flicked to the bottom right to put it CofI 1- UCC 0 very early on. The match which was being played on the top pitch in Garryduff due to adverse weather conditions fell victim to some scrappy errors on both sides. Eoin Finnegan did well to capitalise on a slightly heavy touch in midfield and started a strong run down the left before playing a pass into the midfield. Andrew McGregor found Shrew Power with a pass who saw his shot well dealt with by the opposition goalkeeper. Stephen Jermyn though made no mistake with the follow up, sweeping hard to the corner to leave CofI powerless to prevent the goal and the scoreline was all square.
Both sides had periods of possession over the next 15 minutes and Sam Grace was very unlucky that his drag flick was merely inches wide of the goal from UCC’s first short corner. Moments later at the other end Mark Gallagher of CofI did one better and scored his second of the game in the 24th minute. Again UCC stepped up the pressure and it didn’t take long before Sam had a second chance to flick home, this time there was no doubts as it flew into the top corner to equalise for the second time in the match.
The second half finished 2-2 with UCC just about in the ascendency after a very even opening half. Shrew Power saw his deflection trickle wide just before the end of the half which would have been a cruel sucker punch to the opposition. CofI began to press higher up the pitch in the second half which meant pockets to play into were opening, but they were a greater threat on the break. UCC went ahead for the first time in the match when Colin Kingston found Eoin on an inside ball just outside the circle. Eoin turned well and smashed it home, continuing on his good run of goals scored this term.
UCC were certainly the dominant team throughout the second half and were justifiably 2 ahead around the hour mark when Adam O’Callaghan crossed the ball in at pace from the right hand side to find Glenn Healy poaching around the penalty spot. Glenn got the faintest of touches to dink the ball over their keeper and score what was an excellent team goal. CofI were left with no choice but to throw everything they had and leave men high to try and catch UCC on the break. In general UCC coped very well, defending strongly and picking on red sticks on every outlet. With just 2 minutes left in the half though there was no stopping a determined run through the left side before calmly slotting a reverse past the excellent Dan Moore in goal. This however proved to be nothing more than a consolation goal as the final whistle blew, UCC were the victors coming out the right side of a 4-3 scoreline. A special mention must go out to Dave Egner and the evergreen Páidi who have proven to be an effective combination thus far this season. CofI proved to be worthy finalists but inevitably it was the depth of UCC that made the difference, several players who did not even make the squad would certainly not have looked out of place on the pitch. A testament to the effort and training that has been core to the opening half of the season’s success. Man of the Match: Darren Wilkinson