Leinster quartet record IHL full-house

Women’s IHL Pool A
Belfast Harlequins 1 (Sarah Wilkinson) Loreto 2 (Nicci Daly 2)
Nicci Daly continued her excellent start to the season, netting a brace for the second weekend running to lead Loreto to an away day set of three points at Deramore Park.

It took her less than three minutes to break the deadlock, running through the left side of the Belfast Harlequins’ defence before firing home a low shot.

Home taliswoman Jenny McAuley played a superb ball across the circle but no forward was able to get an equalising touch from their best early chance.

Loreto could have made it 2-0 from the penalty spot but skipper Nikki Keegan saw her effort saved by Jenny Foster. The second goal, however, fell to Daly once again; this time finding space in the circle at penalty corner to touch the ball home from close range.

One more would have handed the Beaufort a bonus point win but, instead, it was the hosts who pulled on back with time running out in the third quarter. McAuley drove through a couple of tackles and slipped to Sarah Wilkinson who finished neatly.

And the home side almost snatched a draw but Claire Coey’s reverse went over the bar in the dying moments.

Hermes 3 (Audrey O’Flynn, Anna O’Flanagan, Aine Connery) UCC 0
UCC alumni Audrey O’Flynn and Aine Connery came back to haunt their alma mater in Hermes’ navy as they unlocked a striking visiting outfit, resplendent in ‘baby pink’ jersies as part Pink Ribbon Breast cancer day,

Hermes shaded the early phases, Zoe Cremin doing well to save from Aine Connery while Eimear Horan was also causing havoc.

Emma Gray was forced into one point-blank save, though, to keep it lively but scoreless after the first quarter.
But the Belfield hosts did take the lead in the second, a lovely drag flick from O’Flynn against her former teammates from her side’s second corner – her third goal of the season.

Anna O’Flanagan extended the advantage during the Booterstown club’s liveliest period in the second half with a beautifully taken corner deflection.

And Aine Connery also deflected to the net, this time after Horan was instrumental in a fine piece of team play to move into bonus point territory.

UCC did earn two corners in the fourth but could not claw a goal back, leaving Hermes’ advantage in tact and four points to start the campaign.

Pegasus 5 (Vanessa Sugeoner, Kristy McCollum, Arlene Boyles, Suzanne Beaney, Stephanie Quinn) Catholic Institute 2 (Rebecca Barry, Eimear Cregan)
Pegasus top Pool A on goals scored as newcomers Vanessa Surgeoner and Stephanie Quinn both scored in which the Belfast side struck twice in the final corner to finally shake off a determined Catholic Institute side in their first ever IHL fixture. Surgeoner started the scoring from a corner rebound but Rebecca Barry’s deflection levelled matters.

Kristy McCollum became the first of three former internationals to score for Pegs, though, just before half-time from another set-piece for a 2-1 lead.

Arlene Boyles was the next, hitting home her side’s third goal from a short corner, but former Irish team-mate Eimear Cregan got Institute back in range from a corner rebound.

Beaney scored from a McCollum for the game’s sixth goal from a penalty corner before Quinn eventually got one from play to seal the bonus point, taking in Michelle Harvey’s pass and shooting from the top of the circle.

Pool A Standings (points/goal difference): 1. Pegasus 4pts (+3) 2. Hermes 4pts (+3) 3. Loreto 3pts (+1) 4. Belfast Harlequins 1pt (-1) 5. Catholic Institute 0pts (-3) 6. UCC 0pts (-3)

Pool B
Railway Union 7 (Nikki Evans 2, Kate Dillon 2, Emma Smyth, Jean McDonnell, Kate Lloyd) Cork Harlequins 2 (Cliodhna Sargent 2)
Free-scoring Railway brought their seasonal tally to 17 from three games to date this season as they repeated their big win over Cork Harlequins in last season’s final with a magnificent seven.

Kate Dillon started the rout in the third minute, rebounding Jean McDonnell’s shot and it was two before the tenth minute was up when Alex Speers played the final ball of a slick move to Emma Smyth who slotted home.

Nikki Evans shot the third before two goals in the first couple of minutes in the second half put the game out of sight – Kate Dillon’s drag-flick and Irish U-16 Kate Lloyd tapping in on her IHL debut.

Cliodhna Sargent did pull one back for Quins by three quarter-time, driving forward from half-way and cracking into the goal. But any thoughts of denying a bonus point win were put to bed by another pair of Railway goals.

Lloyd initiated a move via McDonnell to Nikki Evans to reverse her second into the goal and the youngster was again a provider for McDonnell, cutting the ball back into her path for 7-1.

Sargent got a late consolation but it was not all good news for Railway as Eimear Dolan looks set to spend several weeks on the sideline, her arm broken in the build-up to one of the Quins’ goals.

UCD 2 (Caroline Hill, Chloe Watkins) Ballymoney 1 (Katie Mullan)
Chloe Watkins swept home the winning goal to hand Johnny Harte’s side a third win in seven days, coming from a goal behind this time to beat Ballymoney in a high-paced tie at Belfield.

UCD dominated much of the possession and territory in the opening 15 minutes but failed to create any clear cut chances and were put on the back foot in the second quarter when Orlagh O’Shea was sin-binned. During that time, Katie Mullan’s fine straight strike made it 1-0 to the Ulster side and, while Caroline Hill went close, that was how it remained until the big break.

Watkins, though, played in Hill after half-time to level the score and, in a tempestuous final period of two Ballymoney green cards and Rosie Carrigan’s yellow, UCD finished the stronger.

From a finely worked penalty corner, Chloe Watkins found the vital touch for a first win of the campaign, making it a full house for Leinster clubs on the women’s side.

Armagh 4 (Amy Stewart, Lucy McKee, Christine Russell, Rachel Mulligan) Ards 1 (Chloe Brown)
Rachel Mulligan grabbed a precious bonus point win for Armagh in the final minute of their tie with Ards, marking their return to the competition in style.

They started brightly and Amy Stewart – recently returned from a lengthy ankle injury – deflected home in the 13th minute. Lucy McKee added a fine reverse two minutes later but, in the second quarter, Chloe Brown pulled one back for the visitors.

A 66th minute stroke, converted by Christine Russell, handed the three winning points to Armagh and they stole a fourth when Mulligan deflected a corner home.

Pool B Standings: 1. Railway Union 4pts (+5) 2. Armagh 4pts (+3) 3. UCD 3pts (+1) 4. Ballymoney 1pt (-1) 5. Ards 0pts (-3) 6. Cork Harlequins 0pts (-5)

** Deryck Vincent’s photos from Railway Union vs Cork Harlequins; his set of photos from Hermes vs UCC will appear later this week

** Deryck Vincent’s photos from Hermes vs UCC

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