Hermes claim inaugural women’s EYHL title

Women’s EY Hockey League – day 14 round-up
Greenfields 0 Hermes 9 (C Watkins 2, N Carroll 2, E Curran, S Greene, C McGilp, N Evans, S Loughran)
Hermes claimed the first European spot on offer from the women’s EY Hockey League as their devastating form confirmed they will top the regular season of the competition.

They lead the pack by 14 points having run up an incredible 13 wins and a draw to date. The win over Greenfields was comprehensive, racing into a 3-0 lead in the first quarter and a five-goal advantage at the break. The result also meant that Greenfields will be relegated back to the Connacht regional league for the 2016-17 season.

It was tough throughout for the Galway side who were without a number of regulars while their superb goalkeeper Sinead Collins was hampered by an injury, too, playing through the pain barrier.

Chloe Watkins on the attack against Greenfields. Pic: (click for more pics)

Chloe Watkins on the attack against Greenfields. Pic: (click for more pics)

In truth, it followed the same pattern as the other ties between the sides this season, Hermes racing into a 5-0 half-time lead and they scarcely looked back. They broke the deadlock in the seventh minute after good work from Nikki Evans located Chloe Watkins who made no mistake. Evans added a second after good work from Naomi Carroll – both players returning after injury – before Caitriona McGilp got Hermes’ third from close range.

In the second quarter, Sinead Loughran’s reverse secured the fourth before Ellen Curran scored from a corner. Greenfields had some fleeting attacks via Sorcha Minihan and Ellie Noone while Trish Garrett drew a fine save from Emma Gray.

Hermes always had the extra gear, however, and added another three goals in the third quarter via Sarah Greene’s deflection, Chloe Watkins from an Evans’ assists, and Curran’s second of the day.

Carroll completed the win with ten minutes remaining before Watkins missed a penalty stroke with two minutes left that would have brought the result to double figures. The result confirms that Greenfields will be relegated from the division in tenth place.

Pegasus 3 (S Thompson, V Surgeoner, A Speers) Cork Harlequins 1 (Y O’Byrne)
Pegasus moved up to second place in the race for the EY Champions Trophy playoff places with a crucial win over in-form Cork Harlequins.

The reigning national champions got off to a flying start when Vanessa Surgeoner was scythed down in the circle just two minutes in. Steph Thompson stepped up to score from the penalty spot for 1-0.

Suzanne Ferris went close to a second moments later when she calmly rounded the goalkeeper but here shot bounced back off the post and Alex Speers was unable to gobble up the rebound. They remained just in front until just after the half-time break when Quins won their first corner and Yvonne O’Byrne cracked it home for 1-1.

Pegs restored the lead within a minute, however, with Surgeoner scoring from a set piece. They had a further effort ruled out just before three quarter time but they did have their third in the 49th minute. Hannah Grieve found Taite Doherty unmarked and she drove into the circle, beat a defender before crossing to Speers who steered home.

Hannah McMillan on the attack for Pegasus. Pic: Rowland White/PressEye

Hannah McMillan on the attack for Pegasus. Pic: Rowland White/PressEye

The win lifts Pegasus above UCD and Railway Union though the playoff race is still very much for grabs with second to fifth covered by just three points. Harlequins drop to sixth and will need to pick up at least three wins from their final four games to have a chance of a playoff spot.

Pembroke Wanderers 0 UCC 1 (N Kerr)
Nicola Kerr’s goal saw UCC produce a hugely important 1-0 win at Serpentine Avenue to raise their hopes, once again, of possibly avoiding the relegation playoff tie.

They had the majority of the opening quarter as Pembroke struggled to settle down, the visitors’ momentum only stalled by a sin-binning late in the opening stanza. It remained tight and cagey into the second quarter with both sides making a series of errors. Pembroke had the best of the chances but could not convert, keeping the game scoreless at the big break.

Sarah Wrixon kept out Pembroke’s first penalty corner in the 41st minute as the hosts upped the tempo in the third quarter but still no goal accrued until UCC finally netted with less than 10 minutes left.

It came from their second corner in succession with Kerr grabbing the crucial touch amid a goalmouth scramble. Pembroke endeavoured to fight back but could find no way through. For UCC, it gets them back into range of eighth placed Ards with their date on March 6th looking to be a crucial one in the relegation shake-up.

Ulster Elks 3 (M Frazer, D Axon, R Chambers) UCD 1 (E Carey)
Ulster Elks continued their resurgent form in the women’s EY Hockey League, making it three wins in succession to move up to fifth place and within two points of the playoff places. UCD drop down to third place after the day’s play.

UCD started on the front foot but soon found themselves one behind as a long ball forward found Hannah Irwin through one-on-one with the goalkeeper. As she tried to spin past the keeper, she was caught, leading to a penalty stroke. Megan Frazer converted for an 11th minute lead.

The second quarter became something of a midfield battle with Gillian Pinder and Deirdre Duke making the moves for UCD while Anna Kozniuk and Shirley McCay prompted the Elks. Katie Mullan dragged one penalty corner goalward which McCay took off the line from the pick of the chances, keeping the Elks’ narrow 1-0 lead in tact.

After a cagey first half, the third quarter was a cracking affair. UCD got back on terms in the 38th minute when Duke broke into the circle, flicking on for Elaine Carey to deflect in.

Greenfields on the defensive against Hermes. Pic: Eirefoto

Greenfields on the defensive against Hermes. Pic: Eirefoto

The Elks responded immediately with a ball down the right to Dawn Axon who broke in-field, beating three players and finishing with a reverse-stick shot low into the corner. Elks continued to press and, in the 43rd minute a ball in from the left found its way to Robyn Chambers who tapped in their third goal.

It left UCD with a mountain to climb and they pushed on, forcing the Elks to defend resolutely. They won two penalty corners but could not convert. Two yellow cards further stunted their progress as they ended the tie with nine players as the Jordanstown hosts picked off a big win.

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