Hockey: Chelsey Whan secures Challenge title for Dromore Ladies

Action from Dromore's 1-0 Challenge final win over Clonmel
Action from Dromore's 1-0 Challenge final win over Clonmel

Chelsey Whan’s sweet penalty corner finish propelled Domore to their second ever women’s Irish Hockey Challenge title as they edged out Clonmel at Serpentine Avenue 1-0.

The Challenge – formerly the May Costley Cup – is Irish hockey’s most unpredictable competition and Dromore became the tenth different winner in the last 10 years, adding to their success in 2008.

They did it in style, working lovely patterns in their forward lines while stifling Clonmel’s attacking threats for long periods with a controlled display.

Indeed, they bossed the first half but could not make that superiority count. Four penalty corners were charged down by the tight-knit Clonmel defence with Katie McDonald shooting over from the follow-up of their first corner 10 minutes in.

The interchanges between Emma Wilson, Hannah Buchanan and Emer Melville were causing problems but they kept running into defensive brick walls with Betty Barlow a key figure in shutting them out.

And, on the break, the Tipperary outfit did have their moments with Jill Shanahan the focal point of their attack. She raced through and turned on a six-pence to open up a shooting chance but it flashed wide of the right post.

The pick of the Dromore openings came two minutes before half-time but Ana Clarke could not get full force behind her shot and the confident Jenny O’Brien booted clear, leaving it 0-0 at half-time.

The second half followed a similar pattern with Dromore holding most of the play with their forward triangle causing problems but Susan Meaney’s side were resolute in their task.

Again, Shanahan almost latched onto breaking ball in the circle for Clonmel but they were eventually caught in the 51st minute.

It came following a wave of attacks which led to a penalty corner. Clonmel broke the line, reducing the numbers for the set piece, and Dromore cleverly worked the ball around the circle to Katie McDonald. She arrowed across from right to left where Whan was waiting to gleefully sweep home.

From there, they looked the more likely to kick on and make the game safe until the last five minutes when Clonmel produced a rousing volley of attacks with plenty of long balls wreaking havoc.

And they thought they had their equaliser from their sole penalty corner. It was switched to the injector by Barlow to Maeve Murphy who struck crisply first time but Eve Hughes brilliantly got across to save with her knee.

With that scare over, Dromore regained their composure to stay clear to the final whistle with some calm work, running down the time for a famous win.