Loreto, Pegasus, Railway and UCD forge ahead in respective women’s IHL groups

Women’s Irish Hockey League
Pool A:

Railway Union and UCD pushed themselves to the brink of IHL semi-final qualification with a pair of big wins as Catholic Institute and Greenfields were heavily beaten, creating a seven-point gap between the top two and Lurgan who jumped up to third place.

Jessica McGirr and Sara Alexander tangle in Loreto and Ards' clash Pic: Adrian Boehm

Jessica McGirr and Sara Alexander tangle in Loreto and Ards’ clash Pic: Adrian Boehm

For Railway, they lined out without some familiar names with Alex Speers and Julia O’Halloran out while Naomi Carroll for Institute was not involved either. The Park Avenue hosts Railway welcomed back ex-Railway player Caroline Hutchinson who was playing for Catholic Institute and whose cousin Ruth Clifford was lining out in opposition for whom Holly Jenkinson and Grace O’Flanagan returned.

After a scoreless first quarter, Railway started to make inroads in the second quarter and eventually found a way through the defensive line of Rosie Pratt and Maria Kelly when Emma Smyth beat a number of defenders and roofed a shot off her reverse.

Sustained second half pressure saw Railway extend the lead in the third quarter with two goals from a series of six corners. Jean McDonnell got the first off a switch right and Kate Lloyd finished off the second at the back post following a sweep by Orla Fox.

Two further goals followed in the final quarter, an Emer Lucey direct strike off a corner and a class goal right at the end of the match. Mary Doorly hit a ball from the Railway defence down the left side of the pitch which was picked up by McDonnell and crashed into the circle to be met by a sliding Kate Dillon who directed the ball into the net.

UCD’s 6-0 win over Greenfields followed a similar pattern. They went 1-0 via a Katie Mullan corner hit and made their move in the third quarter with Emily Beatty, Mullan and Duke stretching the lead out to 4-0. Mullan completed her hat trick while Duke got a touch at corner time to make it a half dozen.

Hermes fell to a third successive single goal defeat to formally end their hopes of winning the title as they could not overcome Kathryn Edgar’s early goal. She converted from an Emma Lindsay cross in the 11th minute and it ultimately proved enough.

Hermes had the bulk of possession for the rest of the half but their only penalty corner of the second quarter was well defended by Lurgan. In an exciting fourth quarter, Hermes won a further five corners but could not find a leveller while Edgar went close to killing the tie off but, in the end, her single goal sufficed.

Pool A: Railway Union 5 (E Smyth, J McDonnell, K Lloyd, E Lucey, K Dillon) Catholic Institute 0; Lurgan 1 (K Edgar) Hermes 0; UCD 6 (K Mullan 3, D Duke 2, E Beatty) Greenfields 0
Standings: 1. Railway Union 12pts (+13) 2. UCD 12pts (+14) 3. Lurgan 5pts (-7) 4. Catholic Institute 4pts (-10) 5. Greenfields 4pts (-7) 6. Hermes 3pts (-3)

Loreto's Hayley Mulcahy on the attack in her side's 3-1 win over Ards Pic: Adrian Boehm

Loreto’s Hayley Mulcahy on the attack in her side’s 3-1 win over Ards Pic: Adrian Boehm

Pool B:
Pegasus and Loreto made major moves forward at the expense of Cork Harlequins and Ards, running up two goal wins that put them in great shape to reach the semi-finals.

In Queen’s, Pegasus did the damage in the second half after an end-to-end opening period with Vanessa Surgeoner a constant threat while Cliodhna Sargent led the Quins’ charge.

Pegs, though, went ahead when a Kate McConnell cross picked out Suzanne Ferris and she rounded the goalkeeper to break the deadlock. Soon after, Robyn Chambers ran the length of the pitch to win a corner. After a couple of set pieces had broken down, Surgeoner then converted for the key second goal.

Despite some cards in the closing quarter, no further goals accrued, making it three wins from three for Pegasus, two points ahead of Loreto following their 3-1 win over Ards whose semi-final hopes look to be gone.
Jessica McGirr got Loreto off to a flying start while Nikki Keegan snuck home a lovely reverse-stick shot into the top corner for 2-0. Ards did win three penalty corners before the first quarter was out but could not convert.

Nonetheless, they were back in the mix in the 43rd minute when Janice Vaughan pulled one back. It kept the game lively but Loreto kept out more corners before killing off the tie in 67th minute when, at the third attempt, Rachel Keegan netted from a set piece.

Old Alex breathed plenty of life into their IHL season as their first win of the campaign moved them up to third in the group. Sarah Canning and Siobhan Scott Nielson got them up and running from play before Sally Campbell made it 3-0 in the third quarter.

Emma Kernohan got one back but Hannah McDermott, in her first game of the season on vacation from the US, scored one and then won a stroke which Canning converted for an emphatic 5-1 win.

Pool B: Loreto 3 (J McGirr, N Keegan, R Keegan) Ards 1 (J Vaughan); Pegasus 2 (S Ferris, V Surgeoner) Cork Harlequins 0; Ballymoney 1 (E Kernohan) Old Alex 5 (S Canning 2, S Campbell, H McDermott, S Scott Nielson)
Standings: 1. Pegasus 12pts (+8) 2. Loreto 10pts (+4) 3. Old Alex 6pts (+1) 4. Ards 4pts (0) 5. Cork Harlequins 4pts (-2) 6. Ballymoney 0pts (-11)

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