Hermes through while Railway and Loreto tie

Electric Ireland Irish Hockey League, round four round-up
Pool A: Hermes 3 (C Quinlan, A Connery, L Jacob) Catholic Institute 0; Pegasus 3 (S Beaney 2, V Surgeoner) Armagh 0; UCD 0 Old Alex 0

Hermes became the first side guaranteed to make it through to the IHL finals weekend after they picked up a third bonus point win from four victories this term in the competition as their clinical nature did for Catholic Institute.

They rode their luck at times, especially in the third quarter, but it means they can ease into their final group date with Pegasus and potentially eliminate the reigning champions.

Push-back was delayed due to pitch-watering issues but the Booterstown hosts were bolstered by the return of four internationals and they got the edge in a competitive first quarter, surviving a couple of corners before Rachel Burke won one at the far end. On the switch, Christine Quinlan swept home

From there, Insta piled forward and created much of the forward momentum as Naomi Carroll, Kym Daly and Eimear Cregan took turns to burst forward while Elaine Bromell’s corner effort was excellently saved by Emma Gray.

But a quick Hermes counter, again right on the hooter, saw then extend the margin to 2-0 as Rachel Burke and Miriam Crowley combined beautifully down the right wing and Aine Connery applied a deft finish.

And victory was complete as Jenny Burke intercepted a ball from the back and Lisa Jacob finished off.

Pegasus are next in line, taking advantage of UCD’s 0-0 draw with Old Alex, as they continued their superb week with a bonus point win over Armagh. Suzanne Beaney struck twice in the first half and Vanessa Surgeoner had her side in bonus territory in the third from a corner.

For UCD, they will now need to outdo Pegs’ result against Hermes on the road at Insta in round five as they left Belfield frustrated.

Four second half corners were repelled by former College player Pamela Smthwick in fine fashion before their impatience at not grabbing a winner got the better of them with Chloe Watkins (two yellows), Anna O’Flanagan (green) and Deirdre Duke (yellow) were all given enforced breaks.

Standings: 1. Hermes 15pts (+10) 2. Pegasus 11pts (+5) 3. UCD 10pts (+3) 4. Catholic Institute 7pts (-2) 5. Old Alex 3pts (-6) 6. Armagh 1pt (-10).

Pool B: Loreto 1 (A Meeke) Railway Union 1 (J O’Halloran); Cork Harlequins 3 (C Sargent 2, K Gaffney) UCC 0; Ballymoney 5 (K Mullan 2, M Frazer 2, N Parke) Lurgan 0.
Not instantly disastrous for either side, Ali Meeke’s late equaliser for Loreto tied up Railway Union, meaning they remain in the top two places in Pool B going into round five.

For Loreto, the trip to Ballymoney next week will be a big one but they have a two point buffer thanks to Meeke’s goal. Both sides at Beaufort suggested afterwards they could have played better but the hosts started the better, Nicci Daly going close in the early minutes, signalling the start to plenty of early pressure, culminating in Nikki Symmons hitting the post.

In response, Sinead Walsh and Jean McDonnell combined to force Healy into saves and they got the opener on the counter in the second quarter when Emma Smyth found Julia O’Halloran who slipped home.

It was a lead maintained despite a couple of corners and a couple of Daly strikes with Grace O’Flanagan saving well on a couple of occasions.

But, in one of the last phases of the game, Symmons found Daly who dribbled to the end line and managed to square all the way to the back post where Meeke was waiting to tap in.

Megan Frazer’s return to the national club stage helped Ballymoney in their bid as she netted twice, adding to underage international Katie Mullan’s double, in a comfortable 5-0 win over Lurgan.

Cork Harlequins, meanwhile, won out 3-0 against UCC in a dead rubber but could play a part in the destination of next week’s final rankings as they host Railway.

Standings: 1 Loreto 14pts (+13) 2 Railway Union 13pts (+13) 3 Ballymoney 12pts (+8) 4 Cork Harlequins 7pts (-1) 5 Lurgan 2pts (-14) 6 UCC 0pts (-19).

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