UCD going for gold; Railway’s bronze assault but men’s EHL berth in jeopardy

Railway Union and UCD are looking forward to medal matches in their respective EuroHockey Club Champions competition but Cork Harlequins have a huge battle on their hands if they are to maintain Ireland’s place in the EuroHockey League.

In the women’s Club Champions Trophy, Railway picked off an impressive 5-0 win over Belarussian side Victoriya Smolevichi, a result which saw them land second in the group behind Real Sociedad who finished top courtesy of a 4-2 win over Ukraine’s MSC Sumchanka earlier in the day.

It left Railway unable to overhaul the Spaniards but they controlled their game throughout with Grace O’Flanagan only called on once and Rachel Barnett, making her European club debut, untroubled in goal in the second half.

They scored from their first corner seven minutes in off captain Emer Lucey’s direct strike. Sinead Dooley got the second, turning in the circle to slot home. Kate McKenna, who had a great game in the blistering heat, got Railway’s third early in the second from mid-circle.

Great play by the dashing Zara Delany saw her beat a couple of defenders and pass to Jean McDonnell who crashed home from the top of the circle.

The fifth goal was goal of the game. Holly Jenkinson drove out of defence, passing to player of the match Julia O’Halloran who interchanged with Emma Smyth, and her shot was deflected in by a Victorya defender.

Railway maintained a clean sheet with Orla Fox and Isobel Joyce dealing with any Belarusian threat, meaning they will play for a bronze medal on Monday at 1.15pm (12.15 Irish Time) against Russia’s CSP Izmaylovo.

Reaching such a stage is an impressive feat, especially in a competition which has featured the clubs that contain the current captains of England (Reading), Spain (Real Sociedad) and Italy (also with Real).

In Catania, UCD overcame a very strong Royal Wellington side, again coming from a goal down to win by a narrow margin. The Belgians had plenty of stars at their disposal including Olympians Gaelle Valcke, Nadine Khouzam and Jill Boon as well as Spanish international midfielder Berta Bonastre.

Valcke scored the only goal of the first half when she finished off a corner in the 27th minute. But the students turned the game on its head in a four minute spell late in the game. Niamh Atcheler scored the equaliser in the 57th minute before Anna O’Flanagan scored the winner soon after.

UCD had already been confirmed as one of the finalists in the competition and found out this afternoon they will be playing Italian side HF Lorenzoni at 12pm Irish time.

On the men’s side, the news is less positive as Cork Harlequins’ third successive defeat could spell an end for the time being to Ireland’s involvement in the Euro Hockey League.

Quins lost 2-0 to Cardiff & UWIC 2-0 with both goals coming in the opening ten minutes with Morgan Harries and Jack Pritchard on the mark. It means that Quins will play off for seventh place on Monday against Switzerland’s Rotweiss Wettingen.

They need a win to give Ireland any chance of retaining their EHL spot though even that could be short of the mark with Wales likely to prosper in their stead. Cardiff need to lose their date with Poland’s AZS Politechnika to bring goal difference into play but that factor is also heavily against Ireland, without a win from six European men’s club games to date.

** Many thanks to Dermot Judge for breaking down the EHL ranking points for me and to Helen Johnston once again for her report from Railway’s European adventures.

Women’s EuroHockey Club Champions Trophy, Antwerp
Railway Union 5 (E Lucey, S Dooley, K McKenna, J McDonnell, own goal) Victoriya Smolevichi 0; Real Sociedad de Futbal 4 MSC Sumchanka 2

Standings: 1. Real Socieded de Futbal 15pts (+8) 2. Railway Union 11pts (+5 ) 2= MSC Sumchanka 7pts (-2) 4. Victoriya Smolevichi 1pt (-11)
Monday, bronze medal match: Railway Union vs CSP Izmaylovo, 12.15pm

Women’s EuroHockey Club Champions Challenge I, Catania
UCD 3 (E Beatty, N Gray, J Deacon) Universitario Catania 2; Royal Wellington 1 Grove Menzieshill 1; UCD 2 (N Atcheler, A O’Flanagan) Royal Wellington 1;

Standings: 1. UCD 15pts (+3) 2. Royal Wellington 5pts (-1) 3. Universitario Catania 3pts (-1) 4. Grove Menzieshill 3pts (-1)
Monday, final: UCD vs HF Lorenzoni, 12pm

Men’s EuroHockey Club Champions Trophy, Vienna
Cork Harlequins 0 Cardiff & UWIC 2 (M Harries, J Pritchard); HC Bra 2 SC Arminen 4

Standings: 1. Cardiff & UWIC 15pts (+5) 2. SV Arminen 11pts (+2) 3. HC Bra 7pts (-3) 4. Cork Harlequins 3pts (-4)
Monday, seventh place playoff: Cork Harlequins vs Rotweiss Wettingen, 7.30am (Irish time)

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