Dramatic late goals were the order of the day as both Catholic Institute and Lisnagarvey scored in the last 10 seconds of their EY Champions Trophy semi-finals to reach Sunday’s decider.
For Institute, it put them through to the women’s final, bringing with it a first ever European place in 2023 as they beat UCD 3-2 at Banbridge’s Havelock Park.
Carroll finished off a hotly contested move with UCD claiming two indiscretions in the lead-up to the goal but, after a long umpire’s consultation, the goal stood and the Limerick side added another big milestone to their breakthrough season.
Earlier, the tie was scoreless before a mad spell of four goals in six minutes in the third quarter ratcheted up the intensity.
Hannah Kelly opened the scoring for Insta but her twin sister Rachel, in UCD colours, levelled almost immediately. Laura Foley’s penalty corner deflection was cancelled out by a Hannah McLoughlin stroke in a mad-cap spell.
It remained that way until the very last play when Carroll finished off with just two seconds showing on the venue’s clock, leaving UCD crest-fallen.
In the first semi-final, two goals within a minute of each other were vital for Pembroke as the regular season champions beat Loreto 3-1.
An even first half saw Lisa Mulcahy score her first EY goal of the season to cancel out Claire Foley’s opener for Pembroke.
But Rachel O’Brien and Emily Beatty both netted just before the end of the third quarter for a lead they would never relinquish.
Pembroke will now hope to complete part two of a potential treble on Sunday at 2.30pm when they meet Catholic Institute in the final at Havelock. Either way, the competition will have a new winner with both sides contesting this national final for the first time.
In the men’s semis, Lisnagarvey produced an outrageous comeback in the last three minutes to deny outsiders Monkstown a place in the final with a 2-1 success.
It was scoreless until 12 minutes from the end when Town took the lead through Davy Carson. But they were unable to hold onto that advantage as Andy Williamson smashed in an equaliser with three minutes left on the clock.
And they were not finished yet with Matthew Nelson swopping following a brilliant run and spin-pass from his brother Ben to snatch the vital goal with nine seconds to go.
The regular season winners will now play Banbridge who dethroned Three Rock Rovers who had held the trophy since 2017.
It went to shoot-out after normal time ended 2-2 with all the goals coming before half-time. Luke Witherow finished off a Mark Cowan assist four minutes in as the hosts started off brilliantly and it was 2-0 courtesy of Josh Moffett, youngster Matthew McKee making the initial inroads.
Rovers fought back, though, and scored twice despite James Walker being in the sin-bin with Ben Johnson and Evan Jennings tying it up.
In the second half, Rovers had the best openings to win it in normal time but they could not further use of a series of penalty corners.
Bann, meanwhile, kept their nerve better in the shoot-out to win 3-1 and advance to Sunday’s final, an all-Ulster affair.
Women’s EY Champions Trophy semi-finals:
Pembroke 3 (C Foley, R O’Brien, E Beatty) Loreto 1 (L Mulcahy); Catholic Institute 3 (H Kelly, L Foley, N Carroll) UCD 2 (R Kelly, H McLoughlin)
Men’s EY Champions Trophy semi-finals:
Lisnagarvey 2 (A Williamson, M Nelson) Monkstown 1 (D Carson); Three Rock Rovers 2 (B Johnson, E Jennings) Banbridge 2 (L Witherow, J Moffett), Banbridge win shoot-out 3-1