Ulster Elks earn place in Europe with victory over Hermes

Ulster Elks celebrate winning the Irish Senior Cup
Ulster Elks celebrate winning the Irish Senior Cup

The celebrations went on long into the night after the Ulster Elks completely outplayed Hermes in beating the Leinster champions 1-0 in Dublin yesterday to claim the Irish Senior Cup for the first time in the club’s history

The only surprise was the margin of victory which flattered Hermes and failed to do justice to the Jordanstown side’s dominance.

The Ulster side went into the game as outsiders as their opponents were gunning for a quadruple set of trophies this season.

They had already won their domestic title and the Jacqui Potter Cup with the IHL play offs to come while the Elks finished the Premier League in third place.

But on the day there was only one team in it for the bulk of the game as Ricky Lee’s side were on top from start to finish.

Their pressing tactics didn’t allow Hermes to settle, their passing was supreme and the only thing missing was a killer touch in front of goal.

They squandered 12 penalty corners and the only reason the score line was as close was down to that fact.

The Elks were heroes to a woman although it was Ireland captain, Megan Frazer, who picked up the individual accolade.

But it was difficult to single out any player as they were all outstanding from goalkeeper Rececca Davidson to school girl Jessica McMaster up front.

Coach Ricky Lee deserves immense credit as his tactics were spot on and his instructions carried out to a tee.

The Elks simply didn’t let their opponents any time on the ball as they chased and harried throughout the entire 70 minutes.

Aine Curran proved to be the heroine with the winning goal in the 30th minute which was created by another of her team’s star performers, Irish international Shirley McCay who was immense.

The Cork native has the knack of scoring important goals and it was her strike that completed the Elks a rare double over Pegasus a few weeks ago in the Premier League.

Elks captain Gemma Frazer was delighted after receiving the famous trophy after a success that booked her team a trip to Europe next season.

“It’s difficult to put it into words really - it’s a really proud day for the club and the university and I thought we played really well and our tactics worked a treat.” she said.

Gemma was fulsome in her praise of her team mates, picking out the goal scorer and Steph Jameson, who flew back from Canada especially for the game.

“Aine is our unsung heroine and she has the knack of scoring important goals for us and Steph was a real rock and calming influence at the back.” she added.

“Ricky got our tactics spot on, Megan and Shirley were outstanding but I thought the whole squad put in a fantastic effortt.”

Lee revealed that his players were so keen to get back onto the pitch after the break he had to cut his half time chat short.

“I said my piece and then asked if anyone else wanted to add anything but they just wanted to restart the game as quickly as possible to keep the momentum going,” he explained.

The Elks were quickly out of the blocks with Megan Frazer pulling most of the strings and going close on a couple of occasions.

Hermes were under the cosh for most of the first half but they did have their moments when they earned three penalty corners on the bounce but Elks keeper Davidson and her defence were equal to the task.

The vital goal came on the half hour mark when McCay slapped the ball over from the left for Curran to take a couple of touches before poking it home from close range.

The Elks started the second half ias they had left off the first - in the ascendancy - forcing a host of set pieces and several saves from Emma Gary in the Hermes goal.

McCay and Gemma Frazer both could have added to their team’s but failed narrowly meaning there were a few nervy moments near the end but anything other than an Elks win would have been a travesty of justice.