Pegasus make opening day statement against new look UCD

Women’s EY Hockey League – day one round-up
Pegasus 3 (S McCay, H Craig, S Thompson) UCD 2 (N Carey, S Kelly)

Steph Thompson’s 65th minute corner won a classic at Belfast HS as Pegasus scored an important win on opening day against the reigning EY Hockey League champions UCD. The students had trailed 2-0 before forging a big comeback only for Pegs to nick the result at the end.

Pegasus’s Hannah Craig tackles Orla Patton. Pic: Billy Pollock (click image for more pictures)

World Cup star Shirley McCay broke the deadlock in just the sixth minute when she netted a penalty corner goal and the Ulster side were in dreamland by the 11th minute when Hannah Craig added another from play.

UCD are much changed this year with seven players making their debuts since summer moves. Two of them helped the students fight back with Niamh Carey replying quickly for 2-1 in the 13th minute.

It remained that way through to the 61st minute when Suzie Kelly – another newcomer – slotted an equaliser from a corner to give the student hope of a point. But four minutes later, the experienced Thompson grabbed what proved to be the winner.

Old Alex 0 Railway Union 3 (S Hawkshaw, H de Burgh Whyte, A-M Whelan)

Railway Union produced a confident start to their EYHL campaign with a 3-0 win over newly promoted Old Alex. Indeed, the Milltown side got an instant idea of the challenge ahead when Sarah Hawkshaw – on her return after four years in the US – scored inside the first minute.

A couple of surging runs were dealt with by the returning Pam Smithwick for Alex before Railway doubled their lead courtest of Hannah de Burgh Whyte’s shot on the switch from a corner.

Anna May Whelan got the third from the second phase of a corner in the 24th minute for a commanding lead. Alex belatedly found their feet with Paul Pena almost laying on a chance for Emma Russell just before half-time. Alex did have plenty of threat when they attacked the baselines but could not garner a tangilble result for their efforts.

Railway – who featured 2017 All-Ireland ladies football winners Kate McKenna and Molly Lamb – were always in control and they could have moved further clear had they taken one of their corner chances in the latter stages.

Belfast Harlequins 2 (Z Wilson, A Edwards) Pembroke 0

Goals from Zoe Wilson and Abi Edwards in the second quarter set Belfast Harlequins off on the right foot for the new EYHL season. After a scoreless opening quarter, Wilson hammered home a penalty corner and it was soon 2-0.

The World Cup star was central again, setting Jenna Watt in motion who set up Edwards for goal number two. Marianne Fox had to be on her toes to make a couple of strong stops either side of half-time as Pembroke looked dangerous with Gillian Pinder prompting things but they could not make a breakthrough.

Cork Harlequins 0 Loreto 2 (N Small, S Clarke)

In a repeat of last year’s EY Champions Trophy final, Loreto again came out on top with a 2-0 win at Farmer’s Cross in a very high tempo game. Sarah Clarke thundered home a penalty corner in the 12th minute and Niamh Small got the insurance goal four minutes into the second half, putting them out of range.

Sunday: Muckross 0 Ards 0

Muckross got a point from their first ever EYHL game, drawing 0-0 at home against Ards in a hard-fought battle. The club was one of the leading lights in the 1990s, reaching six Irish Senior Cup finals among other success, but dropped as low as Leinster Division Four before fighting their way back to this level.

Early on, the Donnybrook side went close with shots from Sarah O’Loughlin and Yasmin Pratt going just wide while Caroline Mathews had a second quarter shot saved. Four corner chances also did not go to plan to keep the scoreboard blank.

Ards came more into in the second half, forcing good saves from Rachel Barnett and landing their first corner in the 50th minute. They would go on to have a few more in the last ten minutes as they threatened to nick a win but Barnett stayed strong for a share of the spoils.

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