Bonus points abound as women’s IHL begins with one-sided results

Women’s Irish Hockey League, round one
Pool A: Catholic Institute 1 (Eimear Cregan) Pegasus 2 (Suzanne Beaney 2)

On a day of big wins, reigning champions Pegasus got the one narrow victory as they showed their grit to come from behind to beat Munster champions Catholic Institute in Rosbrien.
Insta took a deserved lead in the ninth minute when Kym Daly showed a great turn of pace down the right and cross for Eimear Cregan to finish off the move.

But Pegs stamped their authority on the game in the second quarter with Claire McMahon causing turmoil up front, twice linking up with Suzanne Beaney who swapped the lead around before the break. Ciara Ronan’s fine save kept the game in the balance into the closing quarter when Katie Campbell and Cregan were both unlucky but the Ulster side held on for an opening win.

Old Alex 0 Hermes 3 (Sinead Connery, Miriam Crowley, Kerry McComish)
Hermes got their campaign off to the perfect start as they recorded a bonus-point earning away win at city rivals Old Alex, Sinead Connery giving them a lead which they never relinquished. She netted from a rebound from her side’s first corner and while Shirley McCay, Sarah Canning and Aisling Naughton performed well, Hermes doubled up in the second quarter.

A number of penalty corners were dealt with by Emma Gray and Christine Quinlan while Miriam Crowley – with her first goal for the club – made it 2-0. And the bonus point was secured when a corner shot was blocked by an Alex body on the line and Kerry McComish scored from the spot.

UCD 3 (Deirdre Duke, Leah Ewart, Hannah de Burgh Whyte) Armagh 0
UCD’s confident start to the season extended to the IHL as they swept to a bonus point win against Armagh at Belfield. Deirdre Duke scored the opener in the second quarter after she and Anna O’Flanagan had made early chances. Leah Ewart extended the lead against her former club, converting one of four corners her side won in the third quarter and, in the closing period, Hannah de Burgh-Whyte got the vital third goal from yet another corner. Instantly after the goal, Armagh threatened to scupper the bonus point when Scarlett Holdsworth won her side’s only corner but it was defended and UCD claimed all four points.

Pool A standings: 1= Hermes 4pts (+3) 1= UCD 4pts (+3) 3. Pegasus 3pts (+1) 4. Catholic Institute 1pt (-1) 5= Armagh 0pts (-3) 5= Old Alex 0pts (-3)

Pool B: Loreto 3 (Niamh Small, Nikki Keegan, Cathy McKean) Cork Harlequins 0
On a fine day for Leinster sides, Loreto were one of four to claim a 3-0 win to start their campaign, getting the better of Beaufort visitors Cork Harlequins. Louisa Healy was the first keeper in action as she denied Cliodhna Sargent’s early shot but they were rocked in the 15th minute when Niamh Small picked up a free and sent the ball through the visiting goalkeeper’s legs. Quins piled on the pressure in the second quarter but could not break through and it cost them when they were two down in the second half.

In the 45th minute, an excellent Lizzie Colvin pass picked out Nikki Keegan who shot home the second goal. Again, Quins had their moments with Rachel McSharry and Jane Chapple going close. But it was Loreto who got the next goal to ensure a bonus point as Nikki Symmons lured Vanessa Sargent off her line and slipped the ball to Cathy McKean to finish and ensure a bonus point.

Ballymoney 4 (Nikki Parke, Jill Kennedy, Emma Lynch, Susie Martin) UCC 1 (Olivia Roycroft)
Ulster champions Ballymoney started their campaign with a comprehensive win at the Joey Dunlop centre to start their IHL year in style.

Katie Mullan weaved into the circle and smacked goalward for Nikki Parke to touch in the opener before the scorer turned creator for the second, her reverse-stick effort guided in by Jill Kennedy. Olivia Roycroft pulled one back but, in the final quarter, Susie Martin and Emma Lynch added to the scoring to grab the bonus point.

Lurgan 0 Railway Union 3 (Nikki Evans, Jean McDonnell, Kate McKenna)
Railway ensured that a young Lurgan side saw the learning curve they will have to cope with this term as their IHL debut ended with a 3-0 loss to the 2010 champions.

Starting at high tempo, Nikki Evans clipped over from five yards in the 6th minute and Alex Speers hit the post in the 11th minute. Two corners were also held out to keep the scoreboard blank and the best chances continued to fall the Dublin side’s way, forcing a good double save from Lurgan keeper Dawn Millar and two more corners were well defended.
But in a five-minute spell of flowing hockey, the whole complexion of the game changed.

Evans, Jean McDonnell and Kate McKenna scored in quick succession to move Railway into a secure position in the third quarter. Lurgan did rally with Zoe McNally winning a first corner and they won a couple more but Railway stayed clear to start the competition in decent fashion.

Pool B standings: 1. Ballymoney 4pts (+3) 2= Railway Union 4pts (+3) 2= Loreto 4pts (+3) 4. UCC 0pts (-3) 5= Lurgan 0pts (-3) 5= Cork Harlequins 0pts (-3)

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