Loreto and UCD complete IHL semi-final line-up

Women’s Irish Hockey League, Pool A
Pegasus ran up the bigger scoreline to take first place in Pool A ahead of Hermes to complete the last relevant details with the two sides having already secured their place in the final four.

Sinead Loughran struck twice for Hermes as they beat Lurgan 3-0 on home turf. Loughran and Caitriona McGilp combined for a lovely opened on 14 minutes and the striker added a second a minute before the big break with a lifted effort past Naomi Costley. Christine Quinlan’s deflected shot from a corner went in for the third 18 minutes from the end.

Pegasus, though, were 6-0 winners over UCC to record a better goal difference in the group. Vanessa Surgeoner and Steph Thompson got the first half goals before Amy Jones, Thompson, Alex Speers and Ruth Maguire closing out the result.

Railway won an exciting, but albeit unimportant, 4-3 win over Ballymoney with Zara Delany scoring the winner from Kate Lloyd’s innovation.

Pool A results: Hermes 3 (S Loughran 2, C Quinlan) Lurgan 0; Pegasus 6 (S Thompson 2 , V Surgeoner, A Jones, A Speers, R Maguire) UCC 0; Railway Union 4 (Z Delany 2, K Lloyd 2) Ballymoney 3 (D McNeill, K Minihan, K Gawn)

Pool B
Jessica McGirr and Niamh Small’s stunning strikes saw Loreto top Pool B as they powered the Beaufort side to a 3-1 win, eliminating Ards from the IHL running.

They will be joined in the final four by UCD who won 4-2 at Ulster Elks to continue their perfect record in the competition to date, their record only marred by a points deduction due to a registration issue.

At Beaufort, Ards had actually started the stronger but were pinged five minutes in when they saw a decision reversed against them due to protests. Hannah Matthews showed some quick thinking and she laid on a raking ball for Hayley Mulcahy who tore down the pitch and scored herself.

After a string of five corners, Naomi Elliott got Ards back on terms from close range following consistent pressure, making it 1-1 at half-time. But Loreto stepped it up in the second half, playing some composed and attractive hockey. They retook the lead from their second corner with McGirr thundering home a hard hit.

Captain Small then produced a moment of magic, picking up the ball in her own half. She went on a mazy run beating at least three players, threw in a dummy for good measure and unleashed a shot which gave the Ards keeper no chance.

Loreto's Niamh Small scored a cracking goal to help her side advance in the IHL Pic: Adrian Boehm

Loreto’s Niamh Small scored a cracking goal to help her side advance in the IHL Pic: Adrian Boehm

This was a complete turn-around from the domination by Ards in the first half and while Emma Reid pulled the strings in midfield, no further goals accrued as the strong and speedy running of Mulcahy, McConnell and Daly continued to cause problems for the Ards defence.

UCD, meanwhile, produced a strong performance to beat the Elks 4-2 amid a deluge that made for tough conditions with free-flowing hockey hard to come by with plenty of surface water.

Nikki Evans opened the scoring in the second quarter and her partner-in-crime Anna O’Flanagan doubled the lead from close range for a 2-0 half-time lead.

Shirley McCay smashed home a corner for the Elks to bring the gap back to one but O’Flanagan counter-attacked to make it 3-1 and Deirdre Duke made the game safe early in the fourth quarter.

Jessica McMaster’s reverse-stick shot got one back but too late in the day. Cork Harlequins beat Greenfields 7-0 in the group’s other game.

Pool B results: Greenfields 0 Cork Harlequins 7 (C Sargent 3, K Bateman 2, Y O’Byrne, R Kohler); Loreto 3 (H Mulcahy, J McGirr, N Small) Ards 1 (N Elliott); Ulster Elks 2 (S McCay, J McMaster) UCD 4 (A O’Flanagan 2, N Evans, D Duke)

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