UCD make big move as Hermes perfect record comes to an end

Women’s EY Hockey League – week 13 results
Saturday: UCC 0 Ulster Elks 7 (Gemma Frazer 2, Hannah Irwin 2, Megan Frazer, Dawn Axon, Jordan Page)

The Ulster Elks arrested their five-game losing streak in spectacular style with a 7-0 mauling of UCC at the Mardyke, putting crucial distance between them and the relegation playoff place as well as keeping alive an outside chance of a Champions Trophy spot.

Gemma Frazer’s corner goal put the Elks 1-0 up in the first quarter after they had done all the early running with Anna Kozniuk hitting the bar already. It was 3-0 by the end of the second quarter with Shirley McCay’s forays forward from the back doing the damage.

Megan Frazer scored a wonder goal, picking out the top corner from the right baseline, in stretching the lead further to 5-0 as Elks bossed all quarters and two more followed in the closing 15 minutes with Hannah Irwin ending with a double, as did Gemma Frazer, with Dawn Axon and Jordan Page also on the mark.

Railway Union 2 (Sarah Canning, Emer Lucey) UCD 3 (Emily Beatty, Deirdre Duke, Elaine Carey)
UCD recorded a crucial victory over Railway Union in the tight-knit battle for EY Champions Trophy places; at the end of Saturday, between second and fifthe place, four sides were covered by just three points for two automatic playoff spots on offer below Hermes.

Railway – who had Grace O’Flanagan, Emer Lucey and Julia O’Halloran back from injury but were without Kate McKenna, Kate Dillon and Orla Fox – got off to a great start as Sarah Canning scored from a corner in the third minute, netting from the second phase after Natasha Cooke’s initial stop.

Michelle Carey had a second effort cancelled out following a consultation between the umpires for a foot in the build-up, leaving the minimum between the sides at the end of the first quarter.

UCD, however, quickly turned things around with an excellent second quarter. Their first goal came from a quick counter with Emily Beatty finished off the move and while they too had an effort cancelled out soon after, they hit the front just before half-time. Deirdre Duke was the scorer when she pumped home a shot from the top of the circle for a 2-1 half-time lead.

Elaine Carey put UCD 3-1 up when she finished off a good move midway through the third quarter to give Miles Warren’s side a strong cushion. They had further corners to extend the lead further but O’Flanagan did well to keep them out, saving one with her helmet.

Railway bounced back in the closing quarter with Emma Smyth drawing a top save from Cooke. Lucey pulled one back with a straight strike from a corner which set up a thrilling finale. Smyth shot inches wide while two more corners were cleared but UCD clung on for the win.

Gillian Pinder tackled by Emma Smyth. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Gillian Pinder tackled by Emma Smyth. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Cork Harlequins 5 (Karen Bateman, Miriam Crowley, Yvonne O’Byrne, Cliodhna Sargent, Olivia Roycroft) Pembroke 1 (Erika Hinkson)

Four goals between the 26th and 42nd minute saw Cork Harlequins blitz Pembroke 5-1 and move back into the top half of the table. Quins were quickest out of the blocks, Karen Bateman creating the opening chance inside the first minute but she miscued her shot. As the quarter went on, Pembroke found their feet and won a corner which drew a good save from Sarah Clarke’s hit.

The home side upped the pace in the second quarter. A fine run from Olivia Roycroft resulted in a crisp pass to an unmarked Miriam Crowley who saw her shot expertly saved by Stella Davis in the Pembroke goal.

With Rachael Kohler starting to get more possession in midfield, it wasn’t long until Roycroft found herself in a one versus one situation with the Pembroke keeper. Again, it was Davis who came out on top. But, in the 26th minute, Quins forced their first penalty corner and took the lead via a superb deflection from Bateman flying into the net to make it 1-0 to the home side. It precipitated a landslide of goals.

After a good run from Yvonne O’Byrne at the edge of the Pembroke circle, the ball fell to Crowley who smashed home to make it 2-0. Roycroft then found herself in possession just inside the Pembroke half. Committing the last defender, she fed the ball to Bateman inside the circle who was brought down by the goalkeeper. Cliodhna Sargent stepped up to dispatch the resulting penalty stroke to make it 3-0.

O’Byrne tacked on a fourth goal from Quins’ second penalty corner with a deflection move. Pembroke got on the board in the closing quarter when Sargent was shown yellow for a loose tackle, resulting in a corner. Erika Hinkson dispatched her drag-flick. But respite was shortlived as Roycroft scored the goal of the game, her reverse-stick shot almost tearing the net as it flew into the top corner.

Pegasus 3 (Alex Speers, Taite Doherty, Hannah Grieve) Hermes 3 (Sarah Greene, Ellen Curran, Caitriona McGilp)

Pegasus made it an unlucky 13 for Hermes who dropped points for the first time this season as Hannah Grieve’s goal in the closing minutes garnered a 3-3 draw from a fantastic advertisement for the game. It was thrill-a-minute from the very start, Steph Thompson’s early cross causing plenty of drama. Pegasus won the first of several corners after four minutes but Hermes’ defence held firm.

Slightly against the run of play, Hermes won their first corner and a slip to Sarah Greene led to a low shot into the corner passed Sammy Jo Greer. Pegasus refused to let Hermes settle on this lead and, within two minutes, Alex Speers got the equaliser – her reverse effort finding the net passed Emma Gray who was unsighted by her defender.

Pegasus failed to capitalise on a string of successive corners in the second quarter and, with three minutes left before half time, Hermes took the lead again. It was a good team goal and the pass to the midfield took out two Pegasus players leaving Hermes to find a free forward in the circle, Ellen Curran finishing from close in.

UCD's Orla Patton under pressure against Railway Union. Pic: Adrian Boehm

UCD’s Orla Patton under pressure against Railway Union. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Eight minutes into the second half, Pegasus found the net again to level terms. The ever present Kate McConnell dispossessed her opposite number on the 23m line and immediately attacked the circle. Her pass found an unmarked Taite Doherty who coolly slipped the ball home.

The game continued at a fast pace with both teams playing top class hockey and looking to regain the lead. Three minutes into the final quarter and Hermes are the team to do just that as they were allowed to run the length of the field for Catriona McGilp to get the final touch.

Pegasus refused to let Hermes take hold of the quarter and, with six minutes to go, and what turns out to be their last penalty corner, Grieve’s shot deflected off the front runners stick to give Gray in goal no chance to recover.
Both teams continued to search for the winner and Pegasus almost find that in the last few seconds of the game but the ball was deflected wide of the upright from the initial shot on goal.

Nonetheless, Hermes end the day 12 points clear of the chasers, needing just four points from the remaining 15 on offer to claim the regular season title.

Ards 2 (Kerry Harvey, Chloe Brown) Greenfields 0
First half goals from Kerry Harvey and Chloe Brown saw Ards put daylight between them and UCC in ninth place in the battle to avoid the relegation playoff tie. The Ulster side were in control for the most part, Brown going close within two minutes of the first whistle. She also almost unlocked the door for Tamara Macleod whose crashing shot when just wide of the post. Becky Weir forced another save from Sinead Collins before the deadlock was broken in the eighth minute from Ards’ first penalty corner. Kerry Harvey deflected home for 1-0.

Her side would force a further four corners in this opening phase but could not extend the lead. Another two followed early in the second quarter before the lead was extended in the 28th minute. It came from an Ards free right on the edge of the circle.

Brown took it quickly, drove left along the edge of the circle, before cracking a reverse stick shot from the top of the circle to make it 2-0 The second half was an exercise in frustration as Ards won four more corners but only succeeded in drawing more great saves from Collins.

Deirdre Duke celebrates a UCD goal. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Deirdre Duke celebrates a UCD goal. Pic: Adrian Boehm

The game finished with another spell of Ards possession, with Greenfields threatening on the counter. Three more set pieces came and went but none were converted.

Sunday: Ulster Elks 3 (Jessica McMaster, Jordan Page, Megan Frazer) Greenfields 0

The Ulster Elks made it double success over the weekend with a win that moves them back into the top five as they well and truly put their run of defeats to bed with a second win in two days.

Jessica McMaster put Ricky Lee’s side 1-0 up after 11 minutes after a spate of early penalty corners. They created many more chances from the set piece but were unable to break through the defences of the Galway side’s defence until the final quarter when Megan Frazer finally added the second. Jordan Page tacked on a third toward the end to close out the 3-0 success.

UCC 1 (Niamh O’Leary) UCD 3 (Deirdre Duke, Katie Mullan, Gillian Pinder)

UCD recorded their second win of the weekend with a 3-1 win at the Mardyke, moving up to second place in the division. They got off to a great start, going in front from their third penalty corner just four minutes into the game, Deirdre Duke the scorer.

Niamh O’Leary’s rocket kept them honest, equalising 10 minutes into the tie but UCD always looked the more dangerous. Antonia McGrath took another shot off the line soon after before Katie Mullan restored the lead from a sixth corner, all before the first quarter was out.

Kate Murphy made a couple of good stops to keep it that way going into half-time and she made another series of saves in the third quarter. But the game was finally made safe in the closing five minutes by Gillian Pinder with a swift attack, ending with a deflection home for a 3-1 result.

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