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 The semi-finalists of the Ashbourne Cup were decided yesterday when University Limerick and University College Cork won their final group games.  UL defeated NUI Galway in Dangan while UCC overcame a spirited UUJ challenge in Dublin.

UCC 2-25 –v- UUJ 5-05
Referee: Donal Ryan
It was goals galore in the first half with no less than six three pointers hit between the sides before half time.  UUJ had the perfect start when Aimee McAtamney hit the back of the net within 30 seconds of the thrown in.  

UCC responded with points from captain Denise Cronin and Cork team mate Joanne Casey, while Cliodhna MacSweeney was also on target for the Cork College.  The sides then exchanged points before UUJ full forward Karen Kielt scored her side’s second goal ten minutes into the first half.  

Katrina Mackey and Waterford All Ireland winner Shauna Kiernan began to dominate at midfield and they provided the platform for the UCC attacks despite pressure from Down’s Paula Gribben.  The UUJ defence was under considerable pressure and despite excellent performances from Cathy Carey, Sabrina Larkin and Aileen Martin, UCC continued to raise the white flag through Mackey and Cronin while the industrious Marie O’Neill also tagged on two points.  

O’Neill followed up on her two points with a fortunate goal midway through the first half before UCC full forward Sharon Hayes scored a goal with ten minutes of the half remaining.  The Belfast side then hit a purple patch with McAtamney and Kielt scoring a goal each, followed up by a pointed free from Derry’s Kielt.  UCC had the final say of the first half with a point from a placed ball courtesy of Katrina Mackey. UCC introduced Aoife Barry-Murphy and Nicola Moore at half time, while UUJ introduced Aimee McInerney at halftime to try and curtail the excellent Joanne Casey. The Cork side continued where they left off in the first half with points from MacSweeney, Casey, Denise Cronin and Nicola Moore.  

Marie O’Neill was again to the fore in the second half adding on a further four points before the Belfast side scored their fifth goal of the game from Alex McLoughlin following a strong run from Sara Louise Carr.  UUJ did create more chances but excellent defending from Caomihe Shields and Eimear Mulhall forced mistakes and missed chances from UUJ.  UCC ran out comfortable winners in the end but UUJ can take heart from their performance.  

As a result of this fixture UCC top the group ahead of UCD and compete in the Ashbourne Cup semi finals, while UUJ will play in the Shield.
UCC: Shauna Carroll (Offaly), Aideen McNamara (Limerick), Nicola Butler (Kilkenny), Caoimhe Shields (Kilkenny), Christina Murphy (Cork), Eimear Mulhall (Kilkenny), Patricia Buttimer (Cork), Shauna Kiernan (Waterford), Katrina Mackey (Cork), Joanne Casey (Cork), Marie O’Neill (Cork), Denise Cronin (capt, Cork), Cliodhna MacSweeney (Kildare), Sharon Hayes (Tipperary), Caitroina Brennan (Kilkenny) SUBS Aoife Barry Murphy (Cork) for Caitroina Brennan, Nicola Moore (Kilkenny) for Sharon Hayes
UUJ: Eleanor Mallon (Antrim), Sarah Maguire (Antrim), Aileen Martin (Antrim), Rebecca Mooney (Antrim), Cathy Carey (Antrim), Sabrina Larkin (Tipperary), Paula Gribben (Down), Lisa McPolin (Down), Shannon Graham (Antrim), Teresa McElroy (Derry), SaraLouise Carr (capt, Down), Niamh Donnelly (Antrim), Alex McLaughlin (Antrim), Karen Kielt (Derry), Aimee McAtamney (Antrim) SUBS: Aimee McInerney (Clare), Joanne O’Laughlin (Antrim)
The fixtures for the semi finals now read as follows.
Semi Final 1
University College Cork –v- University College Limerick
Semi Final 2
Waterford IT –v- University College Dublin
NUI Galway –v- University of Ulster Jordanstown

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