Women’s EY Hockey League – day 17 round-up
Pegasus 6 (L McKee 2, S Thompson, A Speers, C Harvey, C McKane) Muckross 0
Pegasus were crowned EY Irish Hockey League regulation season champions for the first time since the competition’s expanded format was introduced after an emphatic 6-0 win over Muckross at the Dub.
The Belfast side needed only a point to make sure the trophy would be heading to Ulster for the first time but they turned on the style to crush the youthful Dublin side, who had proved hard to break down in the early stages. Having lifted the title, Pegasus are now back in Europe for the first time in three seasons as one of Ireland’s two representatives.
They will now go on to compete for the Irish Champions Trophy, contested by the top four EYHL finishers, in Banbridge at the start of May with Loreto and UCD also confirmed in the playoffs.
“We’ll go into the tournament with no pressure, having already guaranteed ourselves European hockey next season,” said Pegasus captain Michelle Harvey.
“We have a break now and we then play Belfast Harlequins in our final match which will be good preparation for the Champions Trophy. We are delighted to have won the league, especially as we had a different squad this season with a mix of youth and experience.
“But we have been able to show consistency, taking each match as it came and playing well in almost every game, so we are super happy.”I’ve been lucky enough to play in three previous European club tournaments and next year’s will be a great experience for our younger players in particular.”
The Muckross goal led a charmed life in the early part of the game as keeper Ellie McLoughlin pulled off a string of saves and Jessica Holland made two brilliant goal-line clearances.
But once Stephanie Thompson broke the deadlock in the 29th minute firing a penalty corner rebound from Shirley McCay high into the net, the floodgates opened.
Alex Speers and Lucy McKee scored to make it 3-0 after the third quarter and Caitlyn Harvey, McKee again and Claire McKane completed the scoring in the last period, all five goals coming from from open play.After the game, Hockey Ireland vice president Ann Rosa presented the trophy as the defeated Muckross players sportingly looked on and applauded their opponents as the champagne corks started popping.
Pembroke 1 (C Foley) Loreto 1 (S Twomey)
Pembroke and Loreto shared the spoils from an excellent quality fixture at Serpentine Avenue in a result that did not overly suit either side in the final reckoning.
The hosts went in front when Sinead Loughran embarked on an excellent run and her ball into the danger zone got a great touch from Claire Foley for 1-0. Loreto bounced back with Sarah Torrans denied by a fine Iseult Cambay one-on-one chance.
Cambay made a couple more good stops to retain the narrow lead into half-time while another chance hit the post and it continued that way up three quarter time. From a corner, Loreto equalised via Sara Twomey with 15 minutes to go as the game opened up and went end-to-end.
Pembroke sit two points off Cork Harlequins in fifth place but have a game in hand against Railway Union which could see them break back into the playoff places. Loreto are second and assured of their EY Champions Trophy spot where they will play UCD.
Cork Harlequins 2 (E Barber, R Barry) UCD 3 (M Carey, N Carey, A Russell)
Niamh Carey’s 65th minute goal earned UCD a 3-2 win at Cork Harlequins, confirming their place in the EY Champions Trophy playoffs while leaving Quins fate to go down to the last day of the regular season.
Both sides were short key personnel with Cliodhna Sargent, Julia O’Halloran, Hannah McLoughlin, Leah McGuire and Lena Tice all absent.
A lively first quarter saw UCD have the best of things but Harlequins were the ones to break the deadlock in the 29th minute with an Emma Barber strike from the top of the D. Michelle Carey got an immediate riposte via Michelle Carey’s tap-in after great work from Nina Heisterkamp.
UCD went in front for the first time nine minutes into the second half when Abbie Russell pounced after Suzie Kelly’s penalty corner shot. Quins replied this time and hit the post before Rebecca Barry’s rocket of a shot tied it up at 2-2 with eight minutes left.
But the Dublin students won it in style with Niamh Carey and Heisterkamp exchanging passes with Carey getting the finish for 3-2. Harlequins had a late corner go just wide and UCD took the points from a thrilling contest.
Old Alex 2 (A Connery 2) Belfast Harlequins 1 (C Stone)
Aine Connery scored twice in the first quarter as Old Alex moved into seventh place from their productive first season in the EY Hockey League as they saw off Belfast Harlequins 2-1.
The first was an audacious piece of work, picking up Freya McDermott’s sideline reverse-flick and she used some of her camogie skills to beat a few players and shoot home.
Connery added her club’s second with a deflection from around the p-spot from a baseline ball from Paula Pena who had been picked out by Millie O’Donnell. Alex continued to have the better chances for the early phases of the second quarter before Belfast came out of their shells with some good counters with Lizzie Colvin at the heart of things.
Claire Stone – a late call-up for Harlequins – gave them a lifeline before the end of the third quarter, getting a soft touch at the back post from a baseline cross.
But, in spite of some frantic defending, Alex managed the closing quarter quite well to see out the victory.
Railway Union 2 (K Fearson, S Hawkshaw) Ards 0
Railway Union moved above Belfast Harlequins into sixth place as goals from Katie Fearon and Sarah Hawkshaw in the second quarter beat Ards 2-0, leaving the Ulster side nervously sitting in the relegation playoff place.
Both sides had their corner openings throughout the tie with Riona Norton making some good saves for the hosts that made the difference in the end.