After what could prove a pivotal weekend in the Leinster women’s division one season, Hermes have emerged from the pack to lead the way by five points going into the winter break.
It comes after they extended their unbeaten streak to nine games in the league as none of other sides in the top five were able to record a win.
A 6-1 win on Saturday against Trinity proved pivotal. They did trail, however, as Avril Dooley-O’Carroll’s lovely reverse-stick finish from a quick break put the students ahead.
Aine Connery equalised, though, with a solo effort from the top of the circle and Rosie Carrigan put Hermes 2-1 up with a reverse-stick deflection high into the net. A hat trick from Aisling Naughton was kick-started by a penalty stroke after Sarah Patton had been fouled while there was a first goal for Kilkenny schoolgirl Lauren Thomas, finishing neatly on her reverse.
The big result on Saturday, though, was in Milltown where Old Alex became the first side to beat UCD on the pitch in the division, a 3-2 scoreline created by Sally Campbell’s late winner.
Early on, UCD put Alex under huge pressure with Anna O’Flanagan, Nikki Evans and Emily Beatty’s strong running causing danger. Alex were pinned in their own half for much of the opening quarter.
But the Alex defence stood firm, marshalled by Jonelke Swanepoel – one of a couple of arrivals from South Africa – and any chance on target kicked away by Pamela Smithwick.
Deirdre Duke, though, created the first goal when she drove into the circle and sho. Her initial shot was saved by Smithwick but Elaine Carey planted the rebound from close range.
Alex did get back level when Campbell went on a strong run down the right and won a penalty corner which Freya McDermott coolly tapped in at the back post.
Soon after, a tackle by Vanessa Winn won possession and her pass found Carissa Vorster in the circle. She turned her defender and slipped the ball for Katherine Egan to sweep home her first senior goal.
The second half saw UCD continue to press on with strong runs from Katie Mullan and Chloe Watkins but Smithwick was in superb form. She was eventually beaten from one of several penalty corners, scored by O’Flanagan.
The students continued to push on but Swanepoel, aided by Eimear O’Regan, made to help out their over-worked midfield of Campbell, Leanne Ryan and McDermott. And they nicked the result from a rare break-out. Campbell took off from a long corner, leaving a couple of defenders in her wake to beat Tiffaney Ellis on her reverse.
Railway Union drew 2-2 with Pembroke in their first game of the weekend but they were denied victory by former Park Avenue player Orla Macken who scored the equaliser with 12 minutes to go.
Cecelia Joyce and Rachel Scott efforts had the game tied at 1-1 at the break before Anna Heisterkamp had Railway in front.
Glenanne and Corinthian were forced to share the spoils in their last league game of 2014 on a baltic Saturday afternoon in Whitechurch Park. It took a while to heat up with the Glens earning the pick of the early chances when Marie Goulding picked out a crash ball from the middle of the park but Siobhan Burke came off her line to clean out everything and avert the danger.
The reds went in front when Sarah Torrans was located in the circle and duly took the ball onto her reverse and shot past the sliding Roisin O’Brien for a 1-0 half-time lead.
Glenanne upped their tempo in the second period with Jen Rynne, Goulding and Clare Shillington linking up well.
Persistence prevailed when a ball was flashed across the face of the Corinthian goal and was deflected in by Shillington. Both teams continued to strive for a second goal and the three points, but neither were successful as the game grew scrappy and ended 1-1.
Sunday’s top of the table ties both ended 1-1. For Railway, they were frustrated once again as they were unable to hold on to a narrow lead.
After a scoreless first half, Emma Smyth put them in front against Hermes when she got a great touch to Hannah de Burgh Whyte’s drilled pass. Sinead Loughran, though, grabbed the leveller with five minutes to go.
UCD, meanwhile, tied 1-1 with Loreto as Sarah Twomey and Lizzie Colvin shared the goals. It leaves Loreto in second place, five points off Hermes but with a game in hand.
Railway and Pembroke are on the same mark but with ten games played while UCD are in fifth place on 17 points while Alex have reignited their push for a top four spot in recent weeks and are on 16 points.
Leinster Division One: Hermes 6 (A Naughton 3, A Connery, R Carrigan, L Thomas) Trinity College 1 (A Dooley-O’Carroll); Old Alexandra 3 (S Campbell, F McDermott, K Egan) UCD 2 (E Carey, A O’Flanagan); Corinthian 1 (S Torrans) Glenanne 1 (C Shillington); Railway Union 2 (C Joyce, A Heisterkamp) Pembroke Wanderers 2 (O Macken, R Scott)
Sunday: UCD 1 (S Twomey) Loreto 1 (L Colvin); Railway 1 (E Smyth) Hermes 1 (S Loughran)
On Monday evening, Railway Union II inflicted the first defeat on Pembroke II of the season in a tie refixed after Saturday’s initial tie was frozen off. Young guns Michelle Carey, from a corner rebound, and Anna Heisterkamp, from play, did the damage in a 2-1 success.
It gives the chasing pack some hope of catching the Serpentine Avenue club after Christmas with Muckross leading the charge following their 3-1 win over UCD II.
Avoca are in fourth place after they drew with Rathgar 2-2 in a very tight game. The Blackrock side started the better with Aifric O’Malley scoring from their first short corner.
They nearly went two up when a neat deflection when Rachel McAuley, following good work down the right by Shelley Richardson, struck the post. Rathgar were fast on the break creating lots of opportunities and Elaine Ross’s equaliser came from a strong run from midfield which split the defence. The initial shot was saved by goalkeeper Danni Cummins but the rebound fell kindly and was slotted home.
Rathgar started the second half well and, following a turnover in midfield, created a three on one and tapped in from close range via Evie McCullough.
This spurred Avoca into action and they had a number of chances to equalise but found the Rathgar keeper in fine form. Avoca continued to push forward and finally got the equaliser when a baseline run found Richardson on the penalty spot and she finished on her reverse.
Siobhan Kane’s double helped Genesis move back into the top five as they beat Hermes II 4-0.
Saturday: Muckross 3 (S Green, L White, J Gilsenan) UCD II 1; Loreto II v Old Alexandra II postponed; Rathgar 2 (E Ross, E McCullough) Avoca 2 (A O’Malley, S Richardson); Hermes II 0 Genesis 4 (S Kane 2, C Maloney, A Barrie)
Monday: Railway Union II 2 (M Carey, A Heisterkamp) Pembroke II 1