Loreto land marquee win in Belfast to move into share of first

EY Hockey League – day five reports
Saturday: Railway Union 1 (S Hawkshaw) Cork Harlequins 3 (M Barry 2, J Murphy)
Cork Harlequins picked up their second win of the season with a 3-1 win over Railway Union as Michelle Barry struck twice while Cliodhna Sargent put in an imperious performance in midfield.

The first quarter ended scoreless with Quins having three corner chances while an excellent Barry run and slip pass ended with a miscontrol when well placed.

The Cork side went in front in the second period when Sargent robbed Kate Lloyd in midfield and drove forward into the circle where she turned and delivered the perfect ball for Jane Murphy to turn in.

Railway came more into the tie in the third quarter and they had their best chance when a speculative ball found Lloyd free on the left. Her reverse flashed across the face of goal.

The Sandymount side – who were without Holly Jenkinson, Amy Elliott and Anna May Whelan – were back in from a penalty corner which saw an initial Hannah de Burgh Whyte shot saved but Sarah Hawkshaw piecked the ball up and managed to squeeze home her shot at the near post.

Quins got back in front when Olivia Roycroft chased a speculative Sargent ball into the corner, robbing the ball off de Burgh Whyte and crossing for Barry. With her first touch, she rounded Carolyn Crampton and stuck it in. Barry then made it 3-1 when she intercepted a long ball, danced into the circle and scored on her reverse.

Sunday: Pegasus 0 Loreto 2 (H Matthews, A Meeke)
Loreto got the big win of the weekend as they ended Pegasus’s perfect start to the season with a 2-0 win at Queen’s with a corner goal in the first and fourth quarters from World Cup stars.

Hannah Matthews got the first in the ninth minute from a set piece and they remained ahead through a tempestuous second period in which both Alex Speers and Shirley McCay both spent time in the sin bin. They did come back well with attacks from Ruth Maguire and Lucy McKee but Matthews marshalled her defence superbly.

Loreto’s Ali Meeke takes on Pegasus’s Alex Speers. Pic: Billy Pollock (click image for more pics)

The second half saw Loreto apply more and more pressure but McCay, Steph Thompson and Pamela Glass kept out the youthful Loreto attack and the classy moves of Ali Meeke.

Megan Todd saved well from Sarah Clarke, Matthews and Meeke, too, in a fine performance. Liz Murphy denied McKee at point-blank range in the closing quarter and it proved a turning point as, within a minute, Meeke eventually made the score 2-0 from a short corner for a deserved Loreto victory. Loreto are now level with Pegasus at the top of the EYHL with 12 points each from five games, shading things on goal difference.

UCD 1 (E Curran) Belfast Harlequins 1 (Z Wilson)
Both sides had serious claims for all three points but ended up sharing a cracker of a tie at Belfield 1-1. The visitors hit the front in the second quarter when Zoe Wilson launched a long ball over everyone to Jenna Watt at the far end who was through on goal. Her shot was impeded when shooting, rightly leading to a stroke which Wilson slotted.

UCD struggled to find too much forward momentum in the first half as Quins worked well around a solid core down the centre of the pitch with a direct game when in possession.

The students, though, found much more width with quick, in-to-out passes in the second half and it yielded plenty of dividends. Marianne Fox, though, was inspired between the Quins posts, keeping out numerous openings.

Bethany Barr’s excellent pass into Niamh Carey’s run down the right finally unlocked the door when she crossed for Ellen Curran whose shot went in via a defensive foot.

The final quarter swung end to end with Belfast having two major chances to nick it in the final minutes. Clodagh Cassin got down to deny Lucy Geddes at close range with a super glove stop and clearance. Then Wilson clattered the crossbar in the last two minutes.

UCD, though, also had a massive chance on the final whistle with two corner shots, the latter of which Fox just about scrambled over the endline from Anna Richardson’s reverse.

Pembroke 2 (E Beatty, G Pinder) Muckross 1 (S Barnwell)
Pembroke made it three wins in a row as they came back from a goal down to beat Muckross in a highly entertaining Dublin 4 derby at Serpentine Avenue.

While they had the best of the exchanges, Muckross carried a big threat at all times which they showed in the 13th minute when Sophie Barnwell’s deflection hit the post. Lisa Mulcahy’s power-slap was then saved off the line by Hayley O”Donnell.

At the far end, Laura Noble’s touch came back off the inside of the post to somehow keep the scoreboard blank. The Muckross goal again led a charmed life when Aisling Naughton laid on a beautifully weighted pass – allowing time for the passer to stand back and watch it reach its target – to Gillian Pinder to race through one-on-one.

She could have shot herself but her pass to the right post gave Ellie McLoughlin time to get across and smother. A corner did follow from which O’Donnell smashed off the base of the post. McLoughlin kept out Pinder on the hooter to keep it 0-0.

The second half saw the goals arrive. Muckross got the first when a corner shot got a heavy touch down the left channel from Barnwell, seeing the ball bounce down and then loop into the net. The lead lasted five minutes when Pinder got a shot off which McLoughlin saved but Emily Beatty slung out a stick to the loose ball, popping in the rebound.

And the winner came from the spot with 13 minutes to go when another O’Donnell corner slap was half-stopped before bumping into post-woman Jessica Holland’s foot. Pinder slotted into the right corner.

From there, Pembroke closed out the game well, stifling any Muckross openings and looking the more likely to score.

Ards 1 (C Adams) Old Alex 2 (A Connery, H McDermott)
Old Alex continued their fine start to the competition with a 2-1 win at Londonderry Park, moving them into fourth place in the table after five matches.

Like each of their other wins, they got on the score sheet very early on as Aine Connery and Hannah McDermott struck within the first 11 minutes to set them on their way.

Caroline Adams got one back from a corner in the second quarter – Ards’ first goal of the season – and they had a good amount of pressure in the second but Alex secured the spoils as their enjoyable start to life in the national stage rolls on.

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