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Pembroke winning streak ends as chasers close in

Pegasus and Catholic Institute took advantage of the end of Pembroke’s seven-game winning streak to close the gap significantly at the top of the women’s EY Hockey League.

The Dubliners had looked to make it eight in succession when they built a 2-0 lead at half-time against UCD but second half goals from Katherine Egan and Emma Paul meant they had to settle for a share of the spoils.

For Pegasus, they were pushed all the way by Railway Union at Malone but eventually prevailed 2-1. 

Niamh Shaw’s penalty corner just before half-time had Railway flying high going into the big break but Katie McKee gave Pegs the perfect start to the second half with a leveller in the 37th minute.

And Taite Doherty won the day just before the end of the third quarter, closing the gap from Pegasus to Pembroke to five points with a game in hand.

Catholic Institute, meanwhile, were comfortable 4-0 winners over Muckross with Roisin Upton firing two identical penalty corner drag-flicks to round out the victory.

Catholic Institute's Roisin Upton holds off Muckross's Sophie Barnwell Pic Adrian Boehm
Catholic Institute’s Roisin Upton holds off Muckross’s Sophie Barnwell Pic Adrian Boehm

Insta are now within three points of the leaders and suggesting there is plenty more road in this title race than envisaged a couple of weeks ago.

At the bottom end of the table, its was the Belfast version of the Harlequins who prevailed against their Cork counterparts in a crucial match-up.

The Cork side had the early chances through Beth Anne O’Farrell but the only goal of the day arrived in the 19th minute courtesy of Emma Uprichard’s piece of brilliance, a sliding reverse-stick shot having beaten a couple of tacklers.

Cork had their moments in the third quarter but the Belfast side held strong and now have five points between themselves and the relegation places.

Old Alex returned to the top four as they recorded their first win since early November, Nikki Evans the star of the show in a 3-1 success against Loreto. She scored twice with Mikayla Power getting the other, Hannah Matthews getting the hosts response.

Women

EYHL Division 1:

Cork Harlequins 0 Belfast Harlequins 1 (E Uprichard); Loreto 1 (H Matthews) Old Alex 3 (N Evans, M Power); Muckross 0 Catholic Institute 4 (R Upton 2, N Carroll, H Kelly); Pegasus 2 (K McKee, T Doherty) Railway Union 1 (N Shaw); Pembroke 2 (E Curran, S Campbell) UCD 2 (K Egan, E Paul)

EYHL Division 2

Pool 1: Ards 6 (Z Malseed 2, A Benson 2, A Carson, K Kimber) Galway 1 (A Manley); Trinity 2 (F Neill, K Sullivan) Corinthian 4 (L McGrane 2, C Seggie)

Pool 2: Lurgan 0 Monkstown 5 (S Kelly, C O’Reilly, C Watkins, N Twomey, R Carthy); Queens University 4 (J McMaster 3, E Getty) Cork C of I 1 (C O’Sullivan)

Women’s EYHL – day 12 round-up

Cork Harlequins 0 Belfast Harlequins 1 (E Uprichard)

Emma Uprichard’s 19th minute goal gave Belfast Harlequins a huge three points over their Cork namesakes, pushing them five points clear of the relegation zone. For the Farmers’ Cross side, it leaves them with eight points to make up in the closing six matches.

The Cork side had the pick of the first quarter chances with Beth Anne O’Farrell going close but the Belfast side came into their own and began to threaten before Uprichard got the only goal.

She came in from the right, beating a couple of defenders before sliding a reverse sweep past the Cork Harlequins keeper. It remained that way through to the break despite Michelle Barry winning a corner but produced no reward.

The third quarter was end to end with the hosts having some big chances they should have put away while the Belfast side were fast on the break but held at bay by a strong defensive showing. The fourth quarter followed a similar pattern with both teams creating chances but not capitalising as the visitors held on for a significant victory.

Pembroke 2 (E Curran, S Campbell) UCD 2 (K Egan, E Paul)

Pembroke’s seven-game winning streak was brought to an end as UCD stormed back to grab a share of the points at Serpentine Avenue, coming back from 2-0 down.

In a first half of few chances, Pembroke opened the scoring from a lovely flowing move, started and finished by Ellen Curran. The midfielder laid off to Sinead Loughran who fed it on to Aisling Naughton on the right baseline. Her ball to the baseline ended up blocked at the near post by goalkeeper Laura Gunning but Curran had followed up the attack to pop in off the pads.

For UCD, their best chance came off the back of Michelle Carey’s driving run with the ball hitting the outside of the goal. Pembroke, though, doubled their lead when a corner was slipped to Sally Campbell who pushed in from the left of the D.

The students were back in the game in the 47th minute when Aine Naughton raced into space down the right right wing and squared for Katherine Egan who controlled well and slotted by Ruth Cowman in the Pembroke goal.

Early in Q4, Hannah McLoughlin hit the post after a surge from the top of the circle as UCD put on the pressure while a corner chance was well blocked by Cowman, scrambling to her right from a deflected shot.

And the equaliser arrived with five minutes to go with Emma Paul slamming in a sweep-shot from a corner into the bottom right corner. Pembroke did land a corner in the closing seconds but it was skewed wide and the laurels shared.

Muckross 0 Catholic Institute 4 (R Upton 2, N Carroll, H Kelly)

Catholic Institute continued their excellent start to 2022 with a third successive victory since the turn of the year, keeping them in second place. 

The first quarter was scoreless with Insta testing the Muckross defensive mettle before taking the lead in the second quarter through Naomi Carroll, a cracking reverse-stick shot from the Olympian.

Catholic Institute's Naomi Carroll celebrates her goal Pic Adrian Boehm
Catholic Institute’s Naomi Carroll celebrates her goal Pic Adrian Boehm

That was how it remained through to half-time but the Limerick side cut loose in the second half with Hannah Kelly grabbing a second goal. And Róisín Upton added two identical penalty corner drag-flicks in the closing period to expand the lead to 4-0.

Pegasus 2 (K McKee, T Doherty) Railway Union 1 (N Shaw)

Pegasus fought back from a half-time deficit to land an important win of their title chances as Katie McKee and Taite Doherty turned the tide against Railway Union at Malone Road.

Niamh Shaw got the only goal of the first half with a cracking hit from a double-switch move from a penalty corner to give Railway the half-time advantage.

Pegasus, though, were level two minutes into the second half when Katie McKee twisted and turned to get the space to shoot on her backhand where she powered home.

And the Ulster side had the winner when Ruth Maguire picked out a brilliant pass to Taite Doherty and she struck a crisp effort for 2-1.

Loreto 1 (H Matthews) Old Alex 3 (N Evans 2, M Power)

Nikki Evans’ classy double earned Old Alex a key win over fellow playoff chasers Loreto to put them in fourth spot in the women’s EY Hockey League.

Nikki Evans’ sparkling top-corner effort lit up the first half as she picked up Millie O’Donnell’s ball into the D, steadying before unleashing a sublime shot on her backhand.

Prior to that, Loreto had seen a corner shot confidently booted away by Holly Micklem while Emma Russell went inches wide from an Evans pull-back. Liz Murphy, meanwhile, was alert to clean up a one-on-one chance.

Loreto had most of the play after the goal with a number of half-chances slipping by with Cailtin Sherin stepping forward and going close.

Alex had the best of the third quarter and they were rewarded when Lena Tice lifted an overhead into the D to Mikayla Power who controlled and slipped in her shot for 2-0.

The Beaufort side got one back from the third of a series of three corners when Hannah Matthews’ hit took a heavy deflection off the number one runner. 

But Evans quickly restored the Alex lead when she reacted brilliantly to a rebound from Tice’s corner shot, batting home on the dive.

Micklem did brilliantly to keep out an Aoife Taaffe first-time shot in Q4 and Matthews went close with another corner effort in a late series of attacks from Loreto but Alex held on for their first win in the EYHL since early November.

EYHL Division 2 round-up

Ards, Corinthian, Monkstown and Queen’s moved into the prime positions in EYHL2 with high-scoring wins in their Saturday match-ups.

Ards head up Pool 1 thanks to a 6-1 win over Galway. It was tight in the first half with the oranges missing a number of chances but they still managed a 1-0 lead at half-time thanks to a near post shot from Ali Carson.

An impressive second half saw Amy Benson and Zara Malseed on the scoreboard twice for Ards before youngster Katie Kimber scored Ards’ final goal from a well rehersed penalty corner routine in the 6-1 win. 

Alyssa Manley smartly converted a penalty corner with a well placed strike for Galway to score their first goal in their EYHL2 campaign.

Corinthian withstood a Trinity comeback to win 4-2 in the other game and move into second spot in the group. Two goals from Lauren McGrane and one from Christina Seggie had the reds 3-0 up before Faye Neill and Kate Sullivan made things interesting. Seggie’s second, though, killed off the tie.

In Pool 2, Monkstown moved closer to a confirmed playoff spot with a 5-0 win over Lurgan with Susie Kelly, Claire O’Reilly, Chloe Watkins, Natasha Twomey and Rebecca Carthy all scoring. 

It puts them 10 points clear of Queen’s who were 4-1 winners at home against Cork C of I.

EYHL Division 2

Pool 1: Ards 6 (Z Malseed 2, A Benson 2, A Carson, K Kimber) Galway 1 (A Manley); Trinity 2 (F Neill, K Sullivan) Corinthian 4 (L McGrane 2, C Seggie)

Pool 2: Lurgan 0 Monkstown 5 (S Kelly, C O’Reilly, C Watkins, N Twomey, R Carthy); Queens University 4 (J McMaster 3, E Getty) Cork C of I 1 (C O’Sullivan)

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