Pegasus and Hermes make big inroads; UCD all but through in IHL Pool B

Women’s Irish Hockey League
Pool A

Pegasus pulled off a great 3-1 win over Railway Union to stay in prime position with Hermes to progress from Pool A of the women’s Irish Hockey League.

At Park Avenue, they got off to the perfect start with former Railway player Alex Speers credited with a first minute goal when her cross deflected off a defensive stick and into the goal.

Suzanne Ferris doubled up eight minutes in, latching onto a through ball and shooting high over the advancing Rachel Barnett. After that opening salvo, Railway found some rhythm with Kate Lloyd creating a number of chances which Ayeisha McFerran was equal to.

Pegasus midfielder Steph Quinn scored the killer third goal against Railway Union

Pegasus midfielder Steph Quinn scored the killer third goal against Railway Union

But Railway did narrow the deficit when a Kate McKenna cross was cut out by McFerran but Emma Smyth pounced on the rebound and slotted it into the goal.

The two-goal was re-established in the third quarter when Pegasus captain Steph Quinn scored their second corner, her strike taking a deflection off a Railway defender’s stick.

From there, the hosts had most of the attacking play but could not convert. It leaves Pegasus on 10 points with Railway back in fifth place in the pool and needing favours from elsewhere to have any chance of landing the title.

For Hermes, they were always in control against UCC and won out 2-0. Christine Quinlan opened the scoring in the seventh minute following Hermes’ third corner of the first quarter with a direct strike.

Two minutes later, Rosie Carrigan doubled the lead with a well executed deflection. Despite numerous penalty corners in the second quarter, there was no change in the scoreline as the Hermes front three were thwarted by a well-marshalled UCC defence with goalkeeper Eline Van Zinnicq having a stormer.

The second half Hermes kept piling on the pressure but couldn’t find another goal. They are in good shape to progress with their next tie at winless Ballymoney in February.

Money drew 1-1 with third placed Lurgan in the all-Ulster tussle. Jo Wilson deflected home for the lead goal in the 46th minute but they were denied the full spoils a minute later when Nikki Cairns finished off a quick break at the back post.

Pool A: Hermes 2 (C Quinlan, R Carrigan) UCC 0; Lurgan 1 (J Wilson) Ballymoney 1 (N Cairns); Railway Union 1 (E Smyth) Pegasus 3 (S Ferris, A Speers, S Quinn)

Pool B
UCD are all but through to the final four of the Irish Hockey League as they beat nearest rivals Loreto 1-0 though the Beaufort side will be happy to have defended well enough to snatch a losing bonus point.

Early on, after a couple of corners, Anna O’Flanagan hit the post from a straight shot but it fell kindly for Emily Beatty to roof the rebound for the only goal of the game.

From there, both sides earned second quarter set pieces while UCD forced the issue for the most part but could not add to their tally. A Beatty cross scraped the outside of the post from the pick of them but it remained 1-0 into the big break.

Ulster Elks' Megan Frazer scored against Greenfields Pic: Adrian Boehm

Ulster Elks’ Megan Frazer scored against Greenfields Pic: Adrian Boehm

The game followed a similar pattern into the second half with Deirdre Duke going close though Loreto did have a couple of corner chances to keep UCD on their toes. But, with nothing more accruing, UCD built a three-point lead at the top of the table with one more win from either their trip to Greenfields or Ulster Elks will see them through.

The Elks got their interest in a semi-final berth right back on track thanks to their 2-0 win over Greenfields with Megan Frazer starting the scoring in the second quarter from a penalty corner. Steph Jameson then made it 2-0 with a straight strike eight minutes from the end from another of their 14 corners.

It lifts them to fourth place in the standings and will need a win over their next opponent, Ards, if they are to retain their chance into round five.

That is because Ards also recored their first win of the competition, beating Cork Harlequins 3-1. The Farmer’s Cross side let slip four early corners before coming out more focussed in the second quarter when Chloe Brown wove her way into the circle from the 25, setting up Rachel Barton to finish the goal at the left post.

Ards had the majority of the play with Emma Reid creating some fantastic balls for the forwards to chase. At the other end, keeper Naomi McKnight made a great save to deny Cork’s fifth penalty corner. Almost immediately after, Amy Benson won a short which Janice Vaughn calmly slotted home.

Intensity levels from both teams dropped slightly in the 3rd quarter, with play mainly being confined to the middle of the pitch. Ards won two more corners, though, when Brown made another great run to set up Tamara McLeod, who finish the goal with class.

Ards looked as if they had put the game to rest when Cork scored from some well worked outfield play. However it proved to little to late, and Ards push forward for the remainder of the game to bring home the points.

Pool B: Ulster Elks 2 (M Frazer, S Jameson) Greenfields 0; Ards 3 (R Barton, J Vaughn, T Macleod) Cork Harlequins 1 (K Bateman); UCD 1 (E Beatty) Loreto 0

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