Smyth’s double sees Railway land Champions Trophy place, joining Pembroke, Hermes and Elks

Women’s EY Hockey League – Day 18 round-up
Pegasus 4 (A Speers, K McConnell, S Ferris, S Thompson) Ulster Elks 2 (J McMaster, M Frazer)

Pegasus copper-fastened their place in the Champions Trophy with an impressive 4-2 win over Ulster rivals Ulster Elks, ending the regular season in second place. They set their stall out early, scoring in the first 45 seconds with Alex Speers on the mark. Megan Frazer equalised five minutes later from a corner for 1-1 at quarter-time.

Pegasus got back in front when Speers battled her way along the endline and slipped to Kate McConnell who had time to pick her spot and neatly place the ball in the goal.

It became 3-1 with Speers again involved in the build-up, forcing her way into the circle and getting a shot off on the reverse. The initial shot was saved but dropped to Taite Doherty whose effort bounced high to Suzanne Ferris who touched in at shoulder-height.

And the win was complete with eight minutes to go when Hannah Grieve picked out Ferris on the right wing from where she a bee-line for the circle and rounded the goalkeeper. Her shot was stopped illegally on the line but Steph Thompson scored from the ensuing penlaty stroke. Jess McMaster got one back on the final whistle for the Elks who ended the season in fifth place but they qualify for the Champions Trophy, too, by virtue of their Irish Senior Cup success.

Hermes 5 (E Horan 2, S Campbell 2, N Carroll) UCC 1 (K Harvey)

It was an emotional day as Hermes ladies firsts took to the pitch for the last time ever in St Andrew’s. Although severely depleted with international trio Anna O’Flanagan, Nikki Evans and Chloe Watkins among the absent, the team were confident they could perform against a strong UCC side, and finish the season out strong.

The first half proved challenging but Hermes managed to squeeze three goals, two coming from Eimear Horan – fresh off a flight from Thailand – and one from Sally Campbell. UCC certainly weren’t giving away any easy opportunities, but Hermes remained calm to finish a strong first half 3-0 up.

As the second half got under way, UCC came out strong to challenge the Hermes defence, and managed to grab a goal from Kate Harvey to leave the sheet unclean. But it was the resilience of team defence paired with superb attacking play, that allowed the hosts to power through and record two more goals – one from a brilliant run made by Naomi Carroll, showing no signs of jet lag from her trip to New Zealand with Ireland, and another resulting from clinical team passing with young buck Sally Campbell finishing off for a 5-1 win.

It meant they concluded the regular season with 12 points to spare over their rivals and, afterwards, captain Emma Gray was presented with the winners trophy following their superb campaign.

Hermes celebrate an Eimear Horan goal. Picture: Adrian Boehm

Hermes celebrate an Eimear Horan goal. Picture: Adrian Boehm

Greenfields 0 Cork Harlequins 2 (J Poland, K Bateman)
Cork Harlequins finished sixth in the league thanks to their 2-0 win over Greenfields in Galway as goals in the second and fourth quarter won the day. Julie Poland opened the scoring before Karen Bateman broke through once again in the closing phases after Sinead Collins produced a series of brilliant saves.

Ards 1 (C Brown) UCD 2 (D Duke 2)
UCD closed out their season with a 2-1 win over Ards, finishing fourth but just short of the Champions Trophy places. The first half ended scoreless with Ards making some of the early running with Scarlett Holdsworth and Becky Weir going close in the first quarter before UCD came back strong with the pick of their efforts scrambled off the goal line.

All the goals came in the third quarter. UCD were rewarded for their efforts when captain Deirdre Duke finished of a great team goal, breaking the deadlock. Ards responded by winning a penalty stroke after a shot was deemed to be stopped on the line by a foot.

Chloe Brown stepped up and confidently put the ball into the roof of the net. But UCD replied quickly and the pressure paid off again when Duke squeezed in her shot off the right inside post to leave Ards trailing 2-1 going into the final quarter.

Both teams continued to attack in the last 15 minutes but it was UCD who managed the most shots on target. Ards did well to deny two penalty corners in quick succession from the visitors. None were converted and UCD had their tenth win of the campaign. Ards end the season in eighth place.

Railway Union 2 (E Smyth 2) Pembroke Wanderers 1 (J Collins)

Railway Union came from a goal down to claim a vital win over Pembroke to finish the regular season in third place, winning a Champions Trophy ticket into the bargain on a dramatic final day in the women’s EY Hockey League.
Jilly Collins had given Pembroke a great start when she scored in the fourth minute off the back of a quick free in that was deflected into the circle where the striker volleyed home.

Hermes celebrate their EY Hockey League victory. Picture: Adrian Boehm

Hermes celebrate their EY Hockey League victory. Picture: Adrian Boehm

The pace slowed in this quarter with neither team making many inroads, Pembroke had a corner strike hit the post but the danger was cleared, and Orla Fox cleared off the line with Grace O’Flanagan beaten.

Nine minutes into the second half, Railway got their equaliser. Michelle Carey received a ball from defence, carried it into the 23 and crossed it into the circle where it was picked up by Emma Smyth who fired it into the roof of the net. Two minutes later, Smyth got the second and winning goal when she pounced on a rebound and slotted it home.

The final quarter was an even affair with Pembroke searching for the equaliser and Railway protecting their lead, dropping to half court.

Pembroke’s cause wasn’t helped when they were reduced to 10 following a yellow card. Grace O’Flanagan was called into action to save a Pembroke corner and Zara Delany broke free from half way crossing to Niamh Carey in support but she was unable to control for a shot. Railway held on, though, for the result they needed to extend their season into the playoffs.

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