On form Elks up to second as Pegasus boost playoff hopes too

Women’s EY Hockey League – day 15 and 16 round-up
Greenfields 1 (K Hennessy) Ulster Elks 3 (R Barry 2, M Frazer)
Ulster Elks moved into third place overnight as Rebecca Barry’s double helped them win their fourth win in succession, coming home from Galway with all three points. All their goals came in the second quarter as Greenfields were competitive long periods but succumbed to quick-fire blitz of goals. Both sides won a corner each in a scoreless first quarter before the game opened up.

Megan Frazer scored the first goal in the 18th minute with a corner drag-flick. Barry was quickest to react when Frazer’s shot four minutes later was saved to make it 2-0 and the Limerick woman’s reverse-stick shot from the left made it 3-0, giving Sinead Collins no chance.

The third quarter was a more even affair with the play going from end to end with Greenfields creating several scoring chances. Elks also created chances but were denied by a resolute home defence. The hosts produced their best hockey in the closing stages with Brenda Flannery, Ellie Noone and Kate Hennessy to the fore and they got a goal back in terriffic style. Flannery’s powerful slap into the circle got a great touch from Hennessy to reduce the final deficit.

Cork Harlequins 1 (M Crowley) Ards 1 (A Benson)
Cork Harlequins bid for a Champions Trophy place took a blow as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Ards at Farmer’s Cross. Ards were quickest out of the blocks, winning a penalty corner after three minutes but Chloe Brown drag flick was comfortably saved by Emma Buckley.

Harlequins started to get on the ball more as time wore on and, in the tenth minute, a fantastic run from Yvonne O’Byrne along the end line found Miriam Crowley at the back post to tap home. Quins continued to hold the balance of power in the second quarter. After a good run from Katie Campbell, the ball found its way to Rachel Hobbs who had her shot well saved by the Ards keeper to keep the gap at 1-0.

Ards upped the pace immediately at the start of the second half, having more possession and getting Brown on the ball. The game swung further Ards way in the 40th minute with Quins going down to ten and then nine players within sixty seconds with Karen Bateman and Yvonne O’Byrne both sent to the bin. From the resulting free, Ards took full advantage, spreading play wide before working it into the circle to find Amy Benson to slam home.

The last quarter swung from end to end with both sides pushing for the win. Defence was on top for the most part but in the last minute Harlequins forced a penalty corner. The ball looked to be travelling in to the bottom right hand corner before Kerri McDonald expertly cleared the ball off the line for 1-1.

Sally Campbell sees a chance shut down by Erika Hinkson. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Sally Campbell sees a chance shut down by Erika Hinkson. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Pegasus 0 Railway Union 1 (S Dooley)

Sinead Dooley struck five minutes from time to earn Railway Union a hugely important 1-0 win over Pegasus, leap-frogging their Ulster rivals and moving back into second place in the women’s EY Hockey League table overnight. In an end to end battle on the Malone Road, Pegasus had the clearer chances while Railway held more of the possession without creating too much.

The second quarter saw Railway have a shot flash just wide from Dooley after Anna Heisterkamp’s approach work in the 22nd minute and Sammy Jo Greer reacted well to save minutes later. Pegasus however enjoyed the majority of the possession but were denied by a resilient Railway defence. Alex Speers, against her former club, went close on a couple of occasions for Pegasus. The third quarter started with much more energy from both teams and the speed of play increased.

Possession was again even between both teams with few goal scoring opportunities being created. Pegasus were awarded another corner which was again defended well by Railway.

As Pegasus pushed forward in the closing quarter, Railway’s Emma Smyth played a lovely through ball to Zara Delany behind the Pegasus defence which Greer and Pamela Glass dealt with smartly. Pegasus pushed forward and were awarded another two penalty corners, the second of which Sarah Canning took off line.

Speers found some space and crossed in to the circle but there was no one able to get on the end of it. Almost immediately after that chance, Railway found a pocket of space in midfield and played Sinead Dooley in one on one with the goalkeeper and she calmly slotted home on her reverse and Railway took the lead. Pegasus continued to press and, despite three further corners in the final minute, they couldn’t find the equaliser.

UCD 2 (A Naughton 2) UCC 2 (S O’Leary, A McGrath)

UCD dropped out of the playoff places as they were held 2-2 by student rivals UCC who are still hoping they can try and get out of the relegation playoff place.

The Dubliners opened the scoring when Aisling Naughton broke past twi players and got a shot away from the top of the circle which went bottom corner. UCC replied with a great deflection from a crash ball outside the circle and Saoirse O’leary got a deflection which went top corner, leaving Natasha Cooke with no chance. After that opening flurry of goals, UCD were the dominant force, creating plenty of chances from a well set up press but no goals accrued.

One of the better quarters UCD have played this season came in the third quarter, creating plenty of chances using the width of the pitch with Emma Duncan holding the middle of the pitch well.

And they eventually got ahead in the fourth quarter with a great team move, starting at left back with Elaine Carey beating two players to set up a glorious chance which Naughton put away. But, with a minute on the clock, UCC won their first corner of the game and Antonia McGrath got the Cork students back level with a straight strike.

Pembroke 2 (E Hinkson, A Ward) Hermes 1 (A O’Flanagan)
Pembroke became the first side in Ireland to beat Hermes in normal time as they recorded a 2-1 win over the already confirmed league champions. Anna O’Flanagan’s 17th minute goal had given Hermes the lead but efforts from Erika Hinkson and Alice Ward turned things around for Keith Crawford’s side.

The win means that Pembroke, by the end of the weekend, cannot now be caught by UCC in ninth place and so are safe from any outside chance of being dragged into the relegation playoff.

Cork Harlequins 3 (K Bateman 2, C Sargent) Hermes 3 (E Horan, N Carroll, S Campbell)

Cork Harlequins produced a stunning fightback from 3-0 down at half-time to earn a draw at Farmer’s Cross. Eimear Horan’s fabulous deflection to Anna O’Flanagan’s initial shot had given Hermes an early lead, one that was augmented by Naomi Carroll’s cracking effort.

Suzie Kelly then set up Sally Campbell for the third goal of the game for an imposing half-time lead. Quins, though, bounced back with a corner goal early in the second half and were back in range by the end of the third quarter. Their equaliser arrived in the final 15 minutes with all three of the goals coming from penalty corners, Karen Bateman scoring twice and another from Cliodhna Sargent.

Ulster Elks 3 (M Frazer, G Frazer, J McMaster) Railway Union 2 (E Lucey, A Heisterkamp)

Ulster Elks continued their immaculate form to beat Railway Union and end the weekend in second place in the women’s EY Hockey League. Railway drop to fourth place and will hope they can win their game in hand against Ards to get back into the playoff places. Emer Lucey’s deflected corner strike opened the scoring for Railway but, from the Elks’ second corner, Megan Frazer’s drag-flick went in off the post.

On 23 minutes, Gemma Frazer drove forward at pace and, sliding past several defenders, she then coolly broke into the circle and lifted the ball into the net for 2-1. Railway were level once again soon after half-time from a smart move which allowed Anna Heisterkamp to deflect in. Elks responded immediately and, on 37 minutes, the ball broke to Jessica McMaster to slap the ball into the net.

Elks then hit the post and a penalty corner drag flick from Megan Frazer just missing the target. Rebecca Barry also skimmed the outside of the post. It kept the tie in the mix as Railway bounced back in the final quarter but could not convert from several corners.

Taite Doherty celebrates her goal for Pegasus against UCD. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Taite Doherty celebrates her goal for Pegasus against UCD. Pic: Adrian Boehm

UCC 1 (E Barber) Ards 1 (C Brown)

A draw between the sides ninth and eighth, respectively, probably suits Ards more as they retain their two point gap ahead of UCC in the battle to avoid the relegation playoff place. It means UCC need to get a win against Hermes or Pegasus in their closing two games to have a chance of avoiding that prospect.

UCC started in the ascendancy and they went in front in the second quarter when Emma Barber scored from a corner. Ards came back into it after that goal with Chloe Brown putting pressure on. It forced a number of corners in the second half and Brown eventually equalised. Neither side could find a winner down the stretch with some scrambling defence and so things stayed as they were.

UCD 0 Pegasus 1 (T Doherty)

Taite Doherty’s single goal earned Pegasus a crucial win that lifted them back up to third place and puts UCD’s chances of reaching the playoffs in jeopardy with just one point from their double weekend.

It was a high quality affair that flowed from end to end. Kate Lloyd went close early on while there were corners given at each end with Katie Mullan’s shot saved off the line. Doherty’s goal arrived early in the second half and they stayed clear for the remainder of the tie.

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