Colliers International Women’s EuroHockey Club Trophy
Monkstown 3 (N Esteves, S Hoban-Logan, R Carrigan) Lille 2 (H-L Han, L Canon)
Monkstown gave theirs – and Irish hockey’s – hopes of avoiding relegation to the third tier of women’s European club competition a massive boost as they came from behind to beat France’s Lille.
They trailed early on but a thunderbolt from Sadhbh Hoban-Logan in the second half kick-started an excellent last half hour for a deserved win.
The French side started well and went 1-0 in front from a cleverly worked corner move, Hye Lyoung Han getting a touch up and over Liz Murphy. Another corner was blocked out soon after but Town started to get more into it toward the end of the first quarter.
The over-lapping Rosie Carrigan won a corner which turned into a second from which Natalie Esteves slapped into the stick-side corner for 1-1.
The second quarter was rugged with some robust challenges and close chances. Elysee Lecas fired inches wide while Lily Lloyd’s good skills were not matched by a finish as she chipped over the bar on the backhand.
Monkstown went in front for the first time five minutes into the second half when Sadhbh Hoban-Logan scored an absolute peach, a 70-metre counter-attack that ended with a rasping shot from the right edge of the circle.
Laetitia Canon levelled within a few minutes from another clever corner move, worked back to the injector to touch home.
But Monkstown restored their advantage in the 43rd minute via a Rosie Carrigan stroke. It was contentiously awarded with the angled shot – from a left switch – looking to be heading wide when it hit the foot which was deemed to have stopped a certain goal.
Town defended the final quarter particularly well with Esteves key at the back as they did not concede a further corner nor shot of note.
“We’re over the moon,” said coach Gareth Watkins afterwards. “We said before the start that we know we have had a tough season but this format means that if you get a win from any of your three games in the group stage or even a point, you can battle and so this is huge.”
The bottom side in each group will be relegated and so, barring a shock Lille win over Russian side Krylatskoye and a swing in goal difference, Monkstown are in great shape to avoid bottom spot in the group.
Prior to this weekend, that was the realistic target given the turnover of players. Some of the panel have been with the side since Monkstown played in Division 7, Rachel Diggin has risen from the fifth team at the start of last term and numerous others have stepped up, too, in different ways.
“There was that big change over the summer and we did find ourselves scrambling last summer. To be fair, the girls have come together really well as a group.
“We knew it would be a tough start but that we could get better and learn. It was a steep learning curve, especially for those stepping up for the first time.
“For the last six or eight weeks, we were there or thereabouts. The girls yesterday were disappointed with the performance but it was a big step up today.”