Big guns keep firing as Cork Harlequins yo-yo back into fourth

Women’s EY Hockey League
Saturday: Ards 0 Loreto 2 (S Torrans, S O’Brien)
Loreto kept their winning run rolling at the top of the table as they overcame a testing tie with midfielders Sara Twomey, Niamh Small and Hayley Mulcahy all unavailable and Chirstina Hamill carrying an ankle injury.
They deployed Hannah Matthews in central midfield and created several good first half chances with Nicci Daly testing Naomi McKnight on number of occasions.

The Beaufort side went in front when Matthews won the ball in midfield and passed to Sarah Torrans who hit a lovely reverse through the goalkeeper at pace.

Ards, though, caused lots of problems with speed down both wings and went close to getting level from a corner hit which Liz Murphy got down well to save with her stick.

The second half followed a similar pattern with Loreto getting the insurance goal from a fine team move. They turned over possession in their own 23 with Siofra O’Brien eliminating one players before putting Torrans on the gallop. She went around a defender to get to to the baseline and cross for O’Brien to follow up and deflect in.

UCD 4 (H McLoughlin 2, S Thomas, M Carey) Old Alexandra 0
UCD produced a neatly packaged 4-0 win over Old Alex, scoring twice in each half at Belfield. Hannah McLoughlin got them off to a great start when she won a penalty corner which she powerfully dragged into the net.

McLoughlin sent another drag just wide with Abbie Russell close to getting a touch on it while Sophie Thomas went close a couple of times and two more corners went unconverted. They continued to boss the play and went 2-0 up when Sarah Patton went on a run and fired into the D where Michelle Carey got down low to finish.

Sophie Thomas got the third in the second half for her first official EYHL goal – she scored in the abandoned matcha against Muckross in midweek which was stricken from the record. And player of the match McLoughlin closed out the win in the closing minutes with another drag-flick for 4-0.

Muckross 1 (E Mathews) Belfast Harlequins 4 (J Watt 2, R Johnston, E Cutrona)
Belfast Harlequins jumped from eighth to fifth thanks to their fourth win of the season as they beat Muckross 4-1 in Donnybrook. Rachel Johnston’s corner in the 13th minute gave them the perfect start in the first quarter with Emilia Cutrona backing her effort up in the second for a 2-0 half-time lead.

Jenna Watt finished off amid a goalmouth scramble for the third before Emma Mathews pulled one back from play while Marianne Fox also saved a stroke during this phase as Muckross threatened a comeback. Watt, though, grabbed her second 30 seconds into the final quarter to kill off any hopes of a big revival.

Pegasus 3 (T Doherty, S McCay, L McKee) Railway Union 1 (H de Burgh Whyte)
Pegasus kept the pressure on Loreto with a comfortable 3-1 win over Railway Union at the Dub . The result leaves the Belfast team four points off the pace but with a game in hand after Loreto defeated Ards 2-0.

Pegasus made a blistering start to the game and were 3-0 up at half-time as Railway seldom looked likely to repeat their big win over Belfast Harlequins on their last visit north.

Pembroke celebrate an Orla Macken goal. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Ireland World Cup silver medallist Shirley McCay set up the opener in the seventh minute providing Taite Doherty with the perfect pass to fire home on her backhand. McCay made it 2-0 14 minutes later when she rifled home a penalty corner to put Pegasus firmly in control. Lucy McKee added number three in the 27th minute when she shot home from close range after a good move down the left flank.

Eimear Lucy had Railway’s first chance shortly before the break but home keeper Megan Todd got down well to save. It was closely contested in the second half as the Dubliners recovered from that nightmare start forcing Todd into several fine stops.

They deservedly pulled one back when Hannah de Burgh Whyte scored from a 64th minute set-piece, firing low into the corner of the net from a switch to the left.

Pembroke 1 (O Macken) Cork Harlequins 0
Orla Macken’s straight strike from the first penalty corner of the tie proved the only difference as Pembroke rose two places and back into fourth place in the table.

That came in the ninth minute when Pembroke were in the ascendancy, forcing some good stops from Becky Maye. Quins settled into the game after that, winning a couple of corners that were deflected away by the corner defence.

Rebecca Barry and Emily O’Leary also went close in the third quarter and they won a final minute penalty corner but the chance was lost at the top to see Pembroke retain the points and make a big leap up.

Sunday: Cork Harlequins 4 (R Barry 2, J Murphy, E O’Leary) Belfast Harlequins 2 (R Johnston, J Watt)
Cork Harlequins did the double over their Belfast rivasl as a blistering first quarter saw them bounce back from Saturday’s defeat and end the weekend’s action in second place.

It was a start delayed by the rain but the Cork side did not hang about when it did get going with Rebecca Barry firing home from a break into the D. It was 2-0 after five minutes when Jane Murphy scored from the next attack, rebounding off an initial save.

And with just eight minutes gone, Barry had her second following a great run and cut-back from Emily O’Leary. Rachel Johnston pulled one back in the 11th minute from a corner but the Cork side kept coming and were 4-1 up with barely 20 minutes gone, Barry this time setting up O’Leary to lift home her finish.

After that flurry of early goals, it remained that way until deep into the third quarter when Jenna Watt during a spell of Belfast pressure with a corner deflection. And they had further set pieces in the last quarter but Cork stayed resolute in defence to see out the result.

UCD 2 (N Carey, L Tice) Ards 0
UCD completed a six-point weekend with a second clean sheet to boot as Niamh Carey and Lena Tice goals saw them beat Ards 2-0. After an even first quarter, UCD went in front in the second from a move started by Michelle Carey, winning a corner which her twin sister got on the end of.

Both sides had their moments but could not advance the score while the third quarter was also very even. The game-breaking second goal came with 10 minutes remaining when Hannah McLoughlin’s ball into the D was deflected in by Tice. The students closed out the tie the stronger from there to make it a good weekend. They sit third, eight points off leaders Loreto with a game in hand, four points back from Pegasus.

Railway Union v Pembroke abandoned due to snow with the score at 3-0

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