Railway on track but Hermes and Loreto drop points

Women’s IHL Week One round-up:
Leinster champions Railway Union gave notice of their intent in this year’s IHL in Saturday’s evening game at Park Avenue with a resounding 4-1 win over competition newcomers Ards. A goal in each quarter was the order of the day as Mick McKinnon’s side continued their perfect start to the season.

Cecelia Joyce’s brilliant turn and reverse broke the deadlock in the 13th minute and once she netted her second from a close-range tap-in the result rarely looked in doubt. Kate Dillon flicked in a corner rebound to make it 3-0 in the second half before Eimear Horan pulled one back.

But Emer Lucey bagged the fourth of the day to seal the bonus point with two minutes to go to ensure a perfect start to the campaign for Railway. It sets up an early Pool A showdown on November 21 when the Sandymount club hosts Cork Harlequins, the other side on maximum points after round one.

Sunday’s two fixtures, meanwhile, saw 2008/09 IHL finalists Hermes and Loreto both drop points on home territory in their opening game of the competition.

Pegasus gained a modicum of revenge for their semi-final exit at the hands of Hermes last time round as they plundered a 1-0 win from UCD. Former international Claire McMahon scored the only goal of the game in the 19th minute when she finished off good work by Kate McConnell and Suzanne Beaney by sliding the ball under Emma Gray. It was one of a rare few chances in the first half.

And that pattern continued after the break though Deirdre Duke’s one on one chance was well saved by Sharon Moffett while Gray did well to keep four Pegs’ corners. It left Hermes with a losing bonus point while the Ulster club return North with three to their name from round one.

For the second week running, Loreto got a late goal but unlike their win against Bray, Cathy McKean’s late strike salvaged a draw against Old Alex as the Milltown club were denied a first win in the competition.

An end-to-end game with plenty of goalmouth action saw Louisa Healy and Pamela Smithwick produce top notch performances between the posts at either end. The former saved well from Lucy Cotter’s corner strike early on before the latter matched her efforts to deny Nikki Keegan’s reverse-stick effort.

And so it continued with each side trading chances. Rachel Griffith and Ann-Marie Cullen pulled off huge tackles to keep the scoreboard blank until the final quarter when Nicola Gray converted a well-worked corner, won by Barbara Fitzgerald.

But Loreto had the final say when Catriona Tipping’s run gave the Beaufort club good field position, eventually earning a corner. Hannah Matthews struck crisply and McKean deflected for the leveller and two points for both sides to conclude a lively opening IHL weekend.

Irish Hockey League results:
Pool A: Ballymoney 2 (D McNeill, L Mullen) Pembroke 2 (A Sherriff, S Doyle); Cork Harlequins 4 (K Bateman 2, L-A Daunt, J Bourke) Cork C of I 1 (C Kenefick); Railway Union 4 (C Joyce 2, K Dillon, E Lucey) Ards 1 (E Horan)
Pool B: UCC 4 (A O’Flynn 3, F O’Connell) Randalstown 0; Loreto 1 (C McKean) Old Alex 1 (N Gray); Hermes 0 Pegasus 1 (C McMahon)

Standings (points/goal difference):
Pool A: 1. Cork Harlequins 4pts (+3) 2. Railway Union 4pts (+3) 3. Ballymoney 2pts (0) 4. Pembroke 2pts (0) 5. Ards 0pts (-3) 6. Cork C of I 0pts (-3)
Pool B: 1. UCC 4pts (+4) 2. Pegasus 3pts (+1) 3. Loreto 2pts (0) 4. Old Alex 2pts (0) 5. Hermes 1pt (-1) 6. Randalstown 0pts (-4)

* For Deryck Vincent’s photos from Railway Union vs Ards, click here and his shots from Hermes vs Pegasus, click here. For Adrian Boehm’s photos of Loreto vs Old Alex, click here

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