Hermes and Railway progress IHL playoff hopes

ESB Electric Ireland Women’s Irish Hockey League
Pool A: Hermes 2 (Caitriona McGilp, Audrey O’Flynn) UCD 1 (Anna O’Flanagan)

Audrey O’Flynn’s corner goal right on the half-time hooter proved the crucial twist as Hermes became the first side to inflict defeat on UCD this term, providing them with a huge boost to their IHL playoff hopes. It was a lively game with plenty of chances at either end at Booterstown but it was the Hermes’ defence who were the more efficient as Sinead McCarthy was particularly effective to limit clear openings late on despite plenty of UCD pressure.

Anna O’Flanagan gave the students the lead with a neatly deflected effort from her side’s first corner but Hermes were back on level terms when Gillian Pinder broke down the left. She worked the ball into the circle and Caitriona McGilp finished off at the near post for her second of the season.

And O’Flynn drag-flicked into the right corner on the hooter to put her side in front, her first this season. The tie remained open and free-flowing with Chloe Watkins clattering the inside of the post before Emma Gray and O’Flynn combined to scramble clear while Stella Davis picked off a couple of excellent saves, the pick of them from Miriam Crowley with a brilliant reaction stop with her stick.

The students went on to dominate the closing quarter but could not seem to work the clear angle despite some sweet interchanges between Niamh Atcheler, Dora Gorman and the superb Watkins. Deirdre Duke went closest when she flashed one effort across the face of goal but Hermes ran out the clock to take the spoils and top spot. Victory over Catholic Institute in round four in April would virtually assure their progression while UCD’s bonus point still leaves them in decent shape, second with ties against Old Alex and Insta to come.

Standings: 1. Hermes 11pts (+7) 2. UCD 8pts (+3) 3. Pegasus 7pts (+2) 4. Catholic Institute 7pts (+1) 5. Old Alex 1pt (-6) 6. Armagh 1pt (-7)

Pool B: Railway Union 9 (Jean McDonnell 3, Emma Smyth 2, Alex Speers 2, Kate Lloyd, Julia O’Halloran) UCC 0
Jean McDonnell’s hat-trick helped ease Railway Union to the biggest win in the IHL’s short history as the Park Avenue hosts had way too much firepower for visiting UCC. The bonus point win pushes Railway ahead of Ballymoney by three points and, with the Ulster side playing Loreto in the final round, they can go through on Friday the 13th of April should they get the better of the Beaufort side.

Emma Smyth started this rout when she deflected Emer Lucey’s strike and Jean McDonnell added a pair within a minute to make it 3-0 after 11 minutes. UCC rallied and, with Amy-Kate Trevor impressing and Susan Peters pulling off a string of saves, they kept it that way until the break.

But a blitz early in the second half ensured the full complement of points as Alex Speers rebounded after Kate Dillon hit the bar. Kate Lloyd reversed home a fifth while there further goals from Smyth, Speers and McDonnell while Julia O’Halloran also got on the mark against her former club.

Standings: 1. Loreto 12pts (+13) 2. Railway Union 11pts (+13) 3. Ballymoney 8pts (+3) 4. Cork Harlequins 3pts (-4) 5. Lurgan 2pts (-9) 6. UCC 0pts (-16)

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