Loreto picked up a strong win over Belfast Harlequins to move into a share of top spot in the women’s EY Hockey League, drawing level with Pegasus who were held to a 1-1 draw by Muckross.
The Beaufort side had enough in the tank to win 3-1 with early goals from Ali Meeke and Lisa Mulcahy putting them in pole position. Julie Dennison, however, got one back in spectacular fashion to make the game tight before Hayley Mulcahy eased the tension.
Pegasus, meanwhile, dropped points for just the second time this season. Alex Speers gave them the lead in the 22nd minute but her former international team mate Anna O’Flanagan turned and cracked home an equaliser for 1-1 just before half-time.
Pegasus did have a series of second half chances but could not break through and had to settle for a share of the spoils, leaving them level with Loreto on 19 points.
Old Alex continued their excellent start to the season when they beat Pembroke 2-1 courtesy of goal from international stars Nikki Evans and Deirdre Duke. Hayley O’Donnell got one back in the final quarter but could not force their way through and they drop out of the top four for the first time this season.
UCD took their place in the playoff places after a 2-1 success at home against Catholic Institute. The game was in the balance at half-time at 1-1 with Lena Tice and Roisin Upton trading goals but Michelle Carey got on the end of a cracking move for the winner.
Cork Harlequins moved clear of the relegation places with a 2-0 win over Railway Union at Farmers’ Cross thanks to penalty corner goals from Emma Barber and Cliodhna Sargent. It was Sargent’s first game of the season with Yvonne O’Byrne also back for the first time, giving them a huge boon
EYHL Division 1: Cork Harlequins 2 (C Sargent, E Barber) Railway Union 0; Loreto 3 (A Meeke, L Mulcahy, H Mulcahy) Belfast Harlequins 1 (J Dennison); Muckross 1 (A O’Flanagan) Pegasus 1 (A Speers); Old Alex 2 (D Duke, N Evans) Pembroke 1 (H O’Donnell); UCD 2 (L Tice, M Carey) Catholic Institute (R Upton)
EYHL Division 2 Pool A: Cork C of I 2 (C Sexton, H Honner) Corinthian 3 (L McGrane, C Vincent, J McGrane); NUIG 2 (A Hara, C Heery) Lurgan 9 (L Wright 2, A Cowan 2, L McNeill 2, C Stewart, J Morrow)Pool B: Queens University 2 (K Ferguson, A Jebb) Ards 2 (H Platt, Z Malseed); UCC 3 (C Perdue 2, J Clein) Greenfields 1 (C Keane
Women’s EYHL – day eight reports
UCD 2 (L Tice, M Carey) Catholic Institute (R Upton)UCD moved back into the top four ahead of Pembroke with a lively 2-1 win over Catholic Institute in a tie played at great pace in Belfield with the international contingent shining despite their recent warm-weather camp in South Africa.
Lena Tice scored the perfect drag-flick to open the scoring in the first quarter and they were on the up with Edel Nyland – on debut for the club – went close just before the end of this phase.
Insta equalised from the penalty spot when Naomi Carroll wreaked havoc and Roisin Upton stepped up to score for 1-1. Tice then had to save one off the line and then had a goal disallowed as it remained level at the big break.
UCD stepped it up in the second half, creating some good chances and they went in front from a great move with Nyland dropping the ball back to Niamh Carey and she set up her twin sister Michelle for what proved to be the winner.
Muckross 1 (A O’Flanagan) Pegasus 1 (A Speers)Muckross stood their ground to land a big point, a result which saw Pegasus’s narrow lead at the top wiped out as Alex Speers and Anna O’Flanagan swapped goals. The Ulster side started off on the front foot with Ellie McLoughlin and Caroline Mathews scrambling to snuff out chances.
Pegasus went in front in the 22nd minute when Alex Speers sailed a shot into the top corner and they had a set piece chance to extend the lead snuffed out before Muckross replied. O’Flanagan picked up the ball at the head of the D and calmly slotted home. And they came close to moving 2-1 up on the half-time whistle after a corner scramble was just about cleared.
O’Flanagan went close to another while Sophie Barnwell’s one-on-one chance with Megan Todd was denied too early in the second half before Pegasus came back into contention with Lucy McKee’s driving runs causing danger.
Kerri McDonald was brilliantly denied by McLoughlin and her next corner shot was charged down. They also hit the post as Muckross lived on their nerves but ultimately got the point.
Loreto 3 (A Meeke, L Mulcahy, H Mulcahy) Belfast Harlequins 1 (J Dennison)Loreto joined Pegasus at the head of the women’s EY Hockey League table with a 3-1 win over Belfast Harlequins at Beaufort. Ali Meeke gave Loreto the perfect start with a goal from play and that advantage was bolstered when Lisa Mulcahy whipped home a powerful slap from a penalty corner for 2-0 at half-time.
Julie Dennison cracked a reply into the top of the goal early in the second half as Quins threatened a comeback but Hayley Mulcahy struck from a corner switch left for 3-1 to put the Dubliners in the clear at 3-1.
Old Alex 2 (D Duke, N Evans) Pembroke 1 (H O’Donnell)International stars Deirdre Duke and Nikki Evans earned Old Alex a key win over Pembroke to jump up into third place, dropping Pembroke out of the top four for the first time this season. Alex handed a debut to former international hockey and rugby 7s international Audrey O’Flynn and they went closest in the early stages via Emilie Ryan Doyle.
Jeamie Deacon had a goal disallowed for height at corner time before both of the goals came in the minutes before half-time. Millie O’Donnell’s disguise pass from the top found Evans at the back post for the opening goal from a corner
It was two when Emma Russell picked out the unmarked Hannah McDermott who selflessly tapped around the keeper for Duke to finish off a great team goal. Pembroke upped the ante and forced corners which Evans had to charge down; Sinead Loughran’s full-pitch run was only denied by Millie O’Donnell before Pembroke got one back from a Hayley O’Donnell corner but they could not find an equaliser and Alex had another win.
Cork Harlequins 2 (C Sargent, E Barber) Railway Union 0Cork Harlequins welcomed the hugely experienced duo of Yvonne O’Byrne and Cliodhna Sargent to the line-up for the first time this season and it inspired them to a big 2-0 home win against Railway Union – their second win of the campaign.
Emma Barber got them up and running from a penalty corner and Sargent then added another before the end of the first quarter for a two-goal lead they would never relinquish. They rode their luck in the second half as Railway had most of the ball and territory in the second half but, with the extra experience in defence, Quins stayed clear to put distance between themselves and the relegation spots.
Women’s EYHL Division 2 round-up
Corinthian won a cracking contest at Garryduff to make it five wins from five in Pool A of the women’s EYHL Division 2, Jessica McGrane grabbing the winner in a 3-2 success over Cork C of I.
It was their fifth successive win in the group as Lauran McGrane and Ciara Vincent efforts looked to have them well set at 2-0. But Ciara Sextion and Hannah Honner – against her former club – tied things up before the younger McGrane carried the day.
The win puts them eight points clear of the chasers. Lurgan moved into second place with a 9-2 away win over NUIG, coming back from 2-0 down after just a few minutes to win comfortably.
Trinity are level with Lurgan, also on 12 points, but with a game in hand due to their bye weekend this time around. The meeting of the students and Lurgan in two weeks time will be crucial.
In Pool B, Zara Malseed’s late goal saw Ards maintain their unbeaten run thus far as they earned a 2-2 draw away to Queen’s. Harriet Platt gave Ards an early lead before Koren Ferguson and Alyssa Jebb swapped things around.
The result has Ards on 16 points with UCC closing the gap to three points with a 3-1 victory over Greenfields with Caoimhe Perdue netting twice. Monkstown are one point back with a game in hand while Queen’s and Greenfields are off the pace six points back.
Pool A: Cork C of I 2 (C Sexton, H Honner) Corinthian 3 (L McGrane, C Vincent, J McGrane); NUIG 2 (A Hara, C Heery) Lurgan 9 (L Wright 2, A Cowan 2, L McNeill 2, C Stewart, J Morrow)
Pool B: Queens University 2 (K Ferguson, A Jebb) Ards 2 (H Platt, Z Malseed); UCC 3 (C Perdue 2, J Clein) Greenfields 1 (C Keane)