Women’s EY Hockey League
Hermes Monkstown 1 (Nikki Evans) UCD 2 (Lena Tice 2)
UCD claimed the women’s EY Hockey League in dramatic fashion as Lena Tice struck two penalty corners to inflict a first defeat of the league season on Hermes-Monkstown, leap-frogging their Dublin rivals on the final day of the campaign. The result earns them a European spot and was their second title in six days, adding to the Irish Senior Cup won at Belfield with a 1-0 win over Cork Harlequins.
The first quarter was dominated by the visitors who showed their intent from the whistle, forcing several corners but the home keeper Liz Murphy dealt comfortably with the chances created. The home side did force a corner but Clodagh Cassin in the UCD goal saved the corner switch.
The home side started to settle in the second quarter, creating opportunities to take the advantage. Cassin pulled off a top class save from a Chloe Watkins corner drag and, just before the end, Nikki Evans showed fantastic skill controlling and spinning to shoot on her reverse. With the UCD keeper beaten, the shot pinged the crossbar to deny the home side a half-time lead.
Evans did, however, give her side the lead in the 38th minute when good work by Anna O’ Flanagan in the circle, saw her battle out of a tackle to pop the ball left for the finish. UCD now needed to score twice to take the title and, in the 44th minute, they forced a corner. This time, the ball was cleverly rolled into the circle to allow Tice to apply a devilishly powerful slap that defeated the defensive lines.
The students kept pushing on in the closing quarter and were rewarded with 12 minutes to go with what proved to be the crucial goal. Again, Tice did the damage in the same manner as the first. The home side threw everything at UCD, withdrawing their keeper in the final moments as they chased the equaliser but, on the day, the college side did enough to take the win and the title.
Pembroke 2 (E Markey, R Scott) Ulster Elks 0
Pembroke completed their great escape from a potential relegation playoff with a 2-0 win over Ulster Elks. In tandem with Belfast Harlequins 5-1 loss to Loreto, it boosted Pembroke to eighth place on goal difference, clear of any impending relegation worries.
It was their second win in their last three games, adding to a recent success against Ards and they went 1-0 up early on. Erica Markey inspired the first goal when she only had the goalkeeper to beat in the seventh minute but was taken down.
A penalty stroke was awarded which was converted by Rachel Scott to open the scoring for the home team, easing the tension. They continued to set the tone in the second quarter when Alice Ward and Erica Hinkson combined well before Markey made it 2-0 in the 31st minute.
Eanna Horan set up the attack down the right before Jill Ringwood picked up the pass and crossed to Markey who made no mistake for a 2-0 half-time lead. Into the second half, Pembroke continued to attack and won a penalty corner in the 40th minute. Eanna Horan’s shot on goal was blocked by a defender and the follow-up hit the post.
Both goalkeepers – Chrissie McKee for Elks, Jessie Elliott for Pembroke – were called upon in the closing quarter but no further goals came and the hosts had ground out the result they desperately needed.
Ards 0 Pegasus, 2 (R McMillan, H Craig)
Pegasus the women’s EYHL season in sixth place as they won their Ulster derby 2-0 with sisters Rachel McMillan and Hannah Craig scoring the goals. The first came in the opening quarter from a drive along the back line and angled ball saw Rachael McMillan open the scoring from close range, 1-0 to the visitors.
Ards came into the game more in the second quarter, seeing more possession of the ball with Kerri McDonald and Lucy McKee linking up well. Pegasus also nearly extended their lead from a series of corners before half-time but nothing further accrued.
The third quarter was a quiet one, with the two sides cancelling each other out, and little in the way of goal threat. Ards came out looking for the equaliser in the final quarter but, despite some decent possession, they could not create any clear goal scoring opportunities against a strong Pegasus defence.
The result was sealed with 8 minutes to go when Hannah Craig pounced on a loose ball in the circle to crash home for 2-0.
Railway Union 1 (K Orr) Cork Harlequins 0
Kate Orr’s single goal saw Railway Union finish in fifth place in the women’s EY Hockey League while Cork Harlequins ended third and bound for the Champions Trophy despite this 1-0 loss. The game followed a junior skills session at sunny Park Avenue with little at stake for either side. Cork Harlequins were without ex-international Rachael Kohler and current international Naomi Carroll, and it was Railway at full strength who made the early running.
They won four corners in the first quarter but were unable to convert, with the skillful Niamh Carey instrumental in winning the set pieces for Railway, while Emma Buckley in the Quins goal made important blocks.
Railway continued to dominate in the second quarter with Zara Delany creating chances but unable to find a way past Buckley, despite Railway winning a further two corners. Cork mounted their first threatening attack just before half time but Grace O’Flanagan in the Railway goal dealt ably with the threat.
The hosts again took up the pace in the second half, winning two more corners but were again unable to convert. Cork Harlequins started to get into the game more and saw a snap shot taken off the line by O’Flanagan.
At the other end, Kate Dillon got a touch on a cross only to see the ball going over the bar. Quins won a stroke in the 49th minute when the ball hit a Railway foot on the line with the goal keeper beaten, but Roisin Upton put it wide.
But the deadlock was finally broken when Emma Smyth won Railway’s ninth corner; it was reset for a 10th with Orr slotting a low drag flick into the corner of the goal. Cork Harlequins upped the pace in the last quarter looking for an equaliser. Yvonne O’Byrne won Quins their first corner of the match in the 63rd minute but O’Flanagan dealt with the shot to secure the points.
Belfast Harlequins 1 (G Frazer) Loreto 5 (S Torrans 5)
Sarah Torrans produced an incredible five-goal salvo to see Loreto land victory at Deramore Park and ultimately condemned Belfast Harlequins to ninth place and the relegation playoff later this month.
The Irish underage international broke the deadlock in the second minute following a fine solo run down the right before neatly finishing in the bottom corner. She grabbed her second in the sixth minute when she turned in a Sarah Evans cross.
She completed her hat trick in just the eighth minute, finishing at the second attempt after another solo run. This eight-minute spell effectively put paid to Harlequins chances of staying in the EYHL automatically.
The hosts finally found some sense of composure in the game thereafter. In the 30th minute Claire Weir had a shot deflected wide before Jenna Watt had a short corner taken off the line. A fine high shot by Lucy Geddes in the 35th minute was well saved and in the same minute Gemma Frazer sent another penalty corner wide.
Early in the second half, Frazer had another good shot saved and Harlequins had three further penalty corners that they were unable to convert. In the 48th minute, Torrans was again clinical in the circle during a Loreto counter attack for 4-0. Two minutes later Helen Stevenson made an outstanding save from Nikki Keegan.
Quins got on the board in the 61st minute from a corner converted by Frazer but Torrans completed an amazing haul of goals when she scored her and her team’s fifth goal following a Keegan assist.