Women’s EY Hockey League – day one round-up
UCD 1 (D Duke) Cork Harlequins 2 (R Upton, N Carroll)
Cork Harlequins ended UCD’s 20-game unbeaten streak – dating back to March 2016 – in the regular season of the EY Hockey League as they came from a goal down to record a famous win at Belfield.
The students started well and went ahead via Deirdre Duke’s shot after sustained pressure in the circle. Harlequins fought back, though, in the second quarter and got their reward when Roisin Upton picked out the bottom left corner. It was a just reward as they began to dictate the pace and show greater urgency.
UCD enjoyed plenty of chances in third quarter but the Quins defence managed to block the majority of crash balls into the circle while Orla Patton’s yellow card slowed the UCD pace for a time.
The winning goal came from a superb Quins move, working the ball through five passes, first back, then left then back into Upton in the middle who slipped the ball into the path of the free-running Naomi Carroll. She cracked a shot in from the right edge of the circle that took a slight deflection on the way in.
UCD had all the possession after that but, despite 13 penalty corners throughout the match, they failed to trouble the scorers again.
Pegasus 6 (A Speers 2, S Thompson 2, K McKee, H Grieve) Trinity 1 (R O’Brien)
Pegasus gave Trinity an early insight into the elevated standard of the EY Hockey League as – despite a first quarter concession – they ran up a half-dozen goals and a strong start to their campaign.
The students run to promotion was built on a tight-knit defence but they were unable to stop the Pegasus flight. Rachel O’Brien did give Trinity a dream start when the ball dropped to her to score from close range though the hosts argued the ball had hit a body in the build-up.
No matter, the Ulster side struck four times before half-time to swap things around. In the 24th minute, excellent pressure from captain Alex Speers stole the ball on the 23 and she pushed into the circle to win a corner which Steph Thompson netted from a slip move.
Two minutes later, new girl Lucy McKee wons Pegs’ third corner. A copy-cat corner saw Thompson double her total for a 2-1 lead. McKee was instrumental in winning another set piece with Katie McKee this time the scorer of the third goal. Hannah Grieve – from yet another corner – took the direct route to make it 4-1 at half-time.
Pegasus continued to dominate in the second half with Speers scoring the fifth goal a minute into the second half and she doubled her tally to close out the scoring. She worked a great exchange with Katie McKee for a comfortable victory.
Ards 2 (F Brown, C Brown) Pembroke 1 (A Naughton)
Chloe Brown got the critical strike amid a flurry of late goals at Londonderry Park, swinging the tie the way of the Ulster side in the face of a much-strengthened Pembroke side.
The first three quarters ended scoreless before a wide open final phase made for a cracking finale. Ards dominated possession from the first whistle with Francesca Brown having an early shot on goal well saved. Naomi McKnight kept out the best of Pembroke’s attacks.
Her counterpart at the far end – Iseult Cambay – kept out a couple of corners as the tie was very much in the balance at 0-0 at half-time. Cambay kept out a couple of further Ards’ chances in the third quarter, raising the tension for a big final phase.
The breakthrough came in the 59th minute when Chloe Brown played a quick free to Francesca Brown who netted for the go-ahead goal. Within four minutes, Pembroke were back on terms with Aisling Naughton getting a touch to Gillian Pinder’s cracking shot from a corner. But Ards summoned a late corner from which Chloe Brown found the target for what a strong start to the campaign.
Belfast Harlequins 3 (L Geddes, Z Wilson, R Johnston) Hermes-Monkstown 2 (L Lloyd, S Hoban-Logan)
Rachel Johnston’s excellent short corner finish earned Belfast Harlequins a big opening win over Hermes-Monkstown at Deramore Park. Both sides have made big changes over the summer with the Ulster side welcoming internationals Zoe Wilson and Lizzie Colvin while Monkstown have seen their international trio Chloe Watkins, Anna O’Flanagan and Nikki Evans move to European clubs for professional contracts.
A year ago, this fixture had ended 10-1 in Hermes-Monkstown’s favour on the opening day of the 2016/17 season but this was a far cry from that outcome. It was Quins new arrivals who were to the fore in their sixth minute opening goal with Wilson and Colvin’s interplay ending with a neat finish from Lucy Geddes. Quins continued to press with some fine saves from the Hermes-Monktown keeper Liz Murphy.
Then, against the run of play Hermes/Monkstown drew 1-1 with a fine finish from Lily Lloyd following a good overload down the left. And things got even better for the Dubliners when Sadhbh Hoban-Logan fired a tomahawk home to make it 2-1. Despite strong efforts from the impressive Wilson and Jenna Watt, Monkstown held the lead into half-time.
But the pressure told eventually in the second half after a number of corners came and went for the hosts. In the 49th minute, Quins won a penalty stroke which was neatly finished by Wilson to bring the game level.
And they finally finished off a polished performance with an excellent short corner finish from Johnston late in the day, capping an encouraging and a very different start to Harlequins season.
Loreto 1 (N Small) Railway Union 1 (N Carey)
Railway Union came from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Loreto in their Dublin derby as Niamh Carey earned her side a share of the spoils. Niamh Small had given Loreto the lead against the run of play when she slotted home.
Carey, however, finished off a fine team move to level in the third quarter to see both sides off the mark with a point.