Russell and Connery make telling impacts for UCD and Alex

Women’s EY Hockey League – day 3 round-up
Ards 0 Pegasus 4 (A Speers 2, S Thompson, K Gourley)
Pegasus continued their perfect start to the season as former Irish captain Alex Speers scored twice for the second successive week. She opened the scoring in the first minute from a penalty corner in the Ulster derby and they were two up by the end of the first quarter with Steph Thompson on the mark, too.

Speers added the third goal in the second quarter when her drive took a defensive deflection. The third quarter was more even as Ards got to grips with their Ulster rivals with Amy Benson and Francesca Brown causing problems but a Kate Gourley tap-in in the fourth quarter saw Pegs nab a fourth.

Muckross 1 (K Fitzgerald) Old Alex 5 (A Connery 3, E Russell, L Jacob)
For the second week running, Aine Connery scored early to propel Old Alex to victory as they saw off fellow promoted side Muckross 5-1. A week ago, Connery had scored a fourth minute goal to beat Cork Harlequins and she had one to her name on Saturday by the sixth minute in a sterling performance.

She had already hit the backboard from a corner three minutes in and then finished off a brilliant move, swapping passes with Emma Russell before bashing home soon after for a 2-0 lead with precious little time gone.

Muckross began to find their rhythm to build attacks as Rachel Cuddy made a welcome return from injury and they got one back in a relentless first half. It followed an Emma Mathews drive into the D before switching the ball wide to Niamh Gowing who returned it to the middle for Katie Fitzgerald who sent the ball into the net.

Muckross had the better of the third quarter with Sophie Barnwell and Caroline Mathews influential in midfield. But Alex stormed back in the closing quarter, forcing Ellie McLoughlin into a series of saves.

From a corner rebound, Emma Russell made it 3-1 with 15 minutes to go and they grazed the outside of the post. Connery got her second with six minutes left and Lisa Jacob closed out the victory for Alex who have made an excellent start to life in the top tier.

Belfast Harlequins 0 Cork Harlequins 3 (O Roycroft, M Barry, Z Bowles)
Cork won the battle of the Harlequins with their first goals of the season leading to their first points. It was a great contest, played in atrocious conditions saw the home side concede to a 22nd minute snapshot goal by Olivia Roycroft from the right of the circle. Belfast had several good chances but couldn’t finish while Linzi Hamilton saved a chance off the line to deny Cork a second.

The visitors added to there tally with breakaway goals from Michelle Barry and Zara Bowles. The latter scoring four minutes into her first team debut since moving from Mildeton in the summer having been an unused sub a week before against Old Alex, netting at the left post.

Belfast Quins pressed most of the last quarter having taken their goalkeeper off but could not break down a resolute Cork defence with captain Cliodhna Sargent and Irish international Yvonne O’Byrne outstanding.

Pembroke 2 (E Beatty, G Pinder) Railway Union 0
Pembroke got their first win of the season with a derby win over Railway Union at Serpentine Avenue with goals from World Cup silver medalists Emily Beatty and Gillian Pinder.

Railway had the better chances of a scoreless first half but things changed in the second. Beatty opened the scoring in the second half with a lovely lob as they stepped up their tempo in the second half with Sorcha Clarke and Sinead Loughran impressing in attack.

Railway’s first corner was taken off the line by Hayley O’Donnell, denying them an equaliser. They threw everything into getting back on terms but were caught at the end when they had swapped out their goalkeeper with Beatty’s mazy run ending in a foul and a stroke. Pinder converted for 2-0 and the points.

UCD 2 (A Russell 2) Loreto 0
UCD put in an extremely composed performance to keep Loreto at bay, defending relatively deep to limit circle entries while striking twice through Abbie Russell in the first half.

Along with Niamh Carey, Russell caused plenty of problems on the counter for Miles Warren’s side. The first goal saw UCD work the handball phase well and, after a few quick passes, Ellen Curran  – returning to the line-up, after a tonsillectomy, along with Katherine Egan – fired a ball into the D from the right. It found its way to Russell at the back post and a quick trap and flick into the goal.

The second quarter saw Loreto hold a lot more possession but Orla Patton, Suzie Kelly and Leah McGuire kept the Beaufort side at arm’s length.

The second came from a big clearance from the back which Sarah Young and then Niamh Carey touched on for Russell who was in behind the defence to score on a reverse over the on-rushing goalkeeper Liz Murphy.

The third quarter was much the same with the Loreto keeper having to come out twice to tackle a UCD forward who got in behind the last defender.

With 10 minutes to go, Loreto pulled their goalkeeper and won a penalty corner which was well saved by Clodagh Cassin. The students received a card to make 11 v 9 outfield but Cassin made two more saves, notably from Sarah Torrans, to retain the clean sheet and the points.

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