Loreto and Pegasus extend lead at head of women’s EYHL

Women’s EY Hockey League – day seven reports
Ards 3 (E Matchett 2, F Brown) Pembroke 4 (L Noble 2, S Loughran, KJ Marshall)
Pembroke picked up their fourth win of the season to move into the top four for the first time, winning a seven-goal thriller at Ards.

Laura Noble finished off a strong team goal in the second quarter to give the Dubliners the lead and she backed that up with a sliding deflection to the returning Aisling Naughton’s ball into the D for 2-0.

Emily Matchett got one back from a penalty corner but Pembroke restored their strong lead in the 48th minute via Sinead Loughran, a cracking shot from the top of the D into the backboard.

Matchett’s second on the break put the game right back into the mix going into the final quarter at 3-2 but Pembroke, once again, replied with Katie Jane Marshall getting a corner deflection.

Francesca Brown made the last two minutes interesting when she scored off the back of a long corner but Pembroke held on for a 4-3 win.

Loreto 5 (S Torrans 2, S Clarke, A Meeke, S Evans) Belfast Harlequins 1 (L Colvin)
Two goals in the minute before half-time saw Loreto continue to lead the pack on goal difference as they saw off a Belfast Harlequins side shy the services of Zoe Wilson.

Sarah Clarke gave Loreto a very early lead from a corner but Quins were more than their equal for much of the second quarter and got back on terms when Lizzie Colvin’s corner shot was deflected in off a defensive stick.

Grace McLoughlin had to clear off her own line moments later but the game turned when Gemma Frazer was shown a green card with 60 seconds to go in the half. She broke down a quick Hannah Matthews’ free and while she sprinted to the sin-bin, Matthews reset and arced a pass to Sarah Torrans to guide home first time.

Within seconds, Ali Meeke was clean through and while her first shot was saved, Quins could only clear the ball straight back onto her stick and she popped into an unguarded net.

That took the sting out of the game and Loreto duly dominated the second half. Sarah Evan’s deflection made it 4-1 in the third quarter. Torrans was on hand to clean up the pieces after a Siofra O’Brien run down the left was half-blocked by Marianne Fox, the striker taking her time before smashing through two scrambling defenders.

UCD 1 (M Carey) Railway Union 1 (H de Burgh Whyte)
Hannah de Burgh Whyte’s penalty stroke eight minutes from time earned Railway Union a point, moving them further away from the danger zone while dropping UCD a further two points off the top two.

UCD started brightly with some nice moves from former Railway player Nina Heisterkamp before Sarah Hawkshaw started making her presence felt for the visitors.

The students were welcoming back Lena Tice following stints in New Zealand and Australia and she had a drag-flick saved by Carolyn Crampton. Tice also made the interception for the first goal in the 15th minute, setting Michelle Carey loose as she tipped the ball out of a couple of tackles before slipping the ball to Emma Young.

She returned the pass and Carey nicked the ball away from the last defender before finding the goal with her early shot. It remained that way through the second quarter as Niamh Carey and Amy Elliott made strong runs for either side. Railway were welcoming back Holly Jenkinson to the fold following the tag rugby World Cup.

They bossed the last quarter with UCD enduring numerous nervous moments, working hard to clear the danger with Clodagh Cassin making key saves.

From a corner, de Burgh Whyte’s powerful hit was parried by Cassin to injector Katie Fearon whose first rebound was blocked brilliantly by Tice on the line but the next phase fell to Elliott. Again, Tice blocked but with the body this time and de Burgh Whyte scored from the subsequent stroke.

Pegasus 1 (S McCay) Old Alex 0
Shirley McCay’s second-half goal sealed Pegasus a hard-fought 1-0 win over Old Alex and kept the Belfast side within goal difference of Loreto at the top of the EY Hockey League table.

The Ireland World Cup silver medallist was also a tower of strength in defence as her team coped well with the Dublin side when they threatened on the break. Pegasus have now lost just once in seven games – a record matched by leaders Loreto.

In a hugely entertaining contest in the late slot at the Dub, Lucy McKee had the first chance on 15 minutes when her shot ended up in the side netting.

Hannah de Burgh Whyte celebrates her goal. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Kate Gourley was next to threaten for the hosts but Ireland goalkeeper Pamela Smithwick pulled off a superb save from point-blank range.

McCay cracked in a set-piece two minutes after the restart for what proved to be the winner, her low sweep shot finding the corner of the net.

Smithwick kept her team in the game with another fabulous stop when she denied Michelle Harvey, who had looked certain to score from a couple of yards out in the 52nd minute after earlier thwarting Taite Doherty from close range.

McCay blotted her copy book when she was then yellow carded for dissent at the award of Alex’s only corner of the match but the visitors were unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage.

Cork Harlequins 1 (C Perdue) Muckross 0
Cork Harlequins jumped up to sixth place in the standings at Caoimhe Perdue’s first quarter goal was enough to see off bottom side Muckross 1-0 at Farmers’ Cross. The result – in tandem with those elsewhere – puts eight points between them and the relegation places with confidence high they can look up the table rather than over their shoulders.

For the most part, Harlequins held much of the ball but the two biggest chances in the first 10 minutes fell to Muckross with Yasmin Pratt clean through only to be denied by Becky Maye while Sophie Barnwell hit the backboard but her reverse was ruled to be back-stick.

Quins kept coming with Olivia Roycroft a driving force and her cross caused havoc from which Perdue eventually spun and pushed home. Three first half corners were repelled by the excellent Ellie McLoughlin while her counterpart, Maye, was again tested by Pratt on the counter.

The second half saw more control from Quins though they did get a let off when Muckross did not trap their second corner. Five Cork corners were also kept out while Roycroft’s fizzing shot drew the save of the day from McLoughlin with an outstretched stick. Alex O’Grady’s slipped effort also drew the goalkeeper’s toe, keeping it at just 1-0.

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