Pegasus flying high on dramatic double weekend

Women’s EY Hockey League – day two and three round-ups


Belfast Harlequins 2 (J Dennison, S Barr) Cork Harlequins 2 (M Barry, A O’Grady)

Belfast and Cork’s Harlequins shared a dramatic 2-2 draw with the Munster side fighting back in the closing quarter to earn their point. Julie Dennison’s cool finish in the first quarter had the Deramore Park hosts leading for a long time as they welcomed Bethany Barr into their line-up for the first time.

Cork pushed hard toward the end of the half, winning a number of corners but Nicola Stoddart saved the best of their chances off the line. It remained at 1-0 until Serena Barr got her first goal for the club from a corner.

Michelle Barry, however, got Cork back in the mix with a set piece goal and they got back on terms via Alex O’Grady’s penalty corner rebound. Belfast had the ball in the net in the final minute but the goal was ruled out and the draw remained.

Loreto 1 (A Meeke) UCD 0

Ali Meeke’s 33rd minute goal was all that separated Loreto and UCD in a close-fought battle in what was the first EYHL game to be played on the new turf at Beaufort. She finished off after a quick one-two with Sarah Torrans for the lead slightly against the run of play.

Indeed, UCD had the best of the general play but Loreto defended immaculately. There was only one corner in the game but the students could not make full use of it.

“Very happy with that today, a very important three points,” said Loreto assistant coach Ian Clarke. “Just one corner in the whole game shows the quality of the defence in the circle from both teams. It was something we worked very hard on in training this week to make sure we didn’t give anything away and we had vital defensive touches all around the pitch.”

For UCD coach Miles Warren, he added: “It is completely frustrating. We have completely dominated the match in possession but they took their one chance in the first half.

“They defended brilliantly in the first half; we didn’t get corners and their keeper made several great saves. But holding that possession doesn’t mean points and that’s what we have got to learn. We played some magnificent hockey but if you don’t put the ball in the goal, you don’t get anything.”

Muckross 1 (A O’Flanagan) Old Alex 2 (O Bools, A Roopnarinesingh)

Old Alex made it two wins from two as goals from Orna Bools and Anna Roopnarinesingh saw them come back from 1-0 down. Muckross started the stronger with a couple of corner chances ending with Anna O’Flanagan finding the backboard for her second goal in two games for the club.

The lead lasted just a minute, however, as Orna Bools – in just her second EYHL game since moving from Three Rock Rovers – picked out the top corner with a reverse-stick shot. It stayed that way into half-time amid a thrilling end-to-end contest. Roopnarinesingh fired home a lovely goal 11 minutes into the second half for 2-1 and it proved the vital moment as Alex held on for the points.

Pegasus 4 (P Glass 2, A Speers 2) Catholic Institute 2 (R Pratt, L Foley)

Two goals each from Alex Speers and the out-of-retirement Pamela Glass saw Pegasus hold off the challenge of Catholic Institute in a cracking encounter at Belfast High School. Speers opened the scoring in the 17th minute.

Rosie Pratt’s penalty stroke levelled matters in the 33rd minute but parity lasted only a matter of seconds as Glass’s corner goal made it 2-1 at half-time. She got her second six minutes into the second half from another corner but Laura Foley got the Limerick side right back in the contest with eight minutes to go.

Insta then had some big chances to equalise but were caught on the counter in the last minute when Speers netted with one of the last acts of the game for 4-2.

Railway Union 1 (L Lloyd) Pembroke 4 (O Macken 2, A Naughton, J Ringwood)

Pembroke recorded the biggest winning scoreline of the season to date as they overcame Railway Union in the Dublin 4 derby at Park Avenue. Railway took an early lead when umpire Julie Beamish played a great advantage in the third minute, allowing Lily Lloyd the chance to cash in and make it 1-0.

Five Railway penalty corners went unconverted as they had the best of the first quarter but they were made to rue those missed chances when Orla Macken – against her former club – nailed a corner goal for 1-1. It kick-started a run of three goals in six minutes for Pembroke to turn the game on its head.

Aisling Naughton finished off a well-taken counter-attack goal. 
Jilly Ringwood got the third soon after from another good advantage for a 3-1 half-time lead. It remained that way until the closing minutes when Macken made it 4-1 and Pembroke’s second win.

Sunday – day three reports

Belfast Harlequins 2 (L Geddes, K Welshman) Catholic Institute 3 (L Foley, N Carroll, R Begley)

Roisin Begley’s final play goal gave Catholic Institute their first ever win in the EY Hockey League since promotion, nicking a 3-2 result at Deramore Park. Lucy Geddes tucked away at the back post for 1-0 to the hosts at the end of the first quarter but Insta had a good tranche of chances to get level in the second quarter with a cracking reverse-stick finish from Laura Foley.

Naomi Carroll put the Limerick side 2-1 ahead early in the second half but Harlequins equalised from a corner via Katherine Welshman. Chances flowed at either end but it was the visitors who finished the strongest, Begley snagging their goal with the last act of the game.

“It is a massive relief to get this first win. It has been a steep learning curve,” coach Dave Passmore said of how Insta have adjusted to their surroundings at the top level. “We have up to nine schoolgirls in the squad and it is a big jump for Munster schools games – it’s not just about the speed or the technical side. It’s adapting to the decision-making, the strategy and the game management.”

Loreto 1 (A Meeke) Muckross 1 (I Cotter)

Ali Meeke popped up with her second goal of the weekend four minutes from the final whistle to snatch a point for Loreto, denying Muckross their first win of the campaign. The visitors to Beaufort took the lead early in the second quarter with India Cotter on the mark, punishing the hosts who were down to 10 players with Caitlin Sherin in the sin-bin.

Loreto stepped up the pressure in the third quarter but could not breakthrough. Muckross, meanwhile, had a couple of corners by Lizzie Murphy which could have made the game safe. They were repelled and, in one last throw, Loreto swapped out their goalkeeper for an extra outfielder and it paid instant dividends with Meeke’s goal.

Old Alex 1 (D Duke) Railway Union 3 (H de Burgh Whyte, S Hawkshaw, N Sweeney)

Railway Union recorded their first win of the season, ending Old Alex’s 100% record with a 3-1 win in Milltown. They led from the outset with Hannah de Burgh Whyte smashing home a penalty corner in the opening five minutes.

Old Alex’s side who won on Saturday at Muckross

Alex equalised in the 22nd minute following super play by Sarah Robinson and while her initial shot was saved by Riona Norton, the deflection was slotted home by Deirdre Duke – her first goal for the club since hers and Nikki Evans’ move was announced on Thursday.

Alex, though, fell behind in the second half in odd circumstances as captain Emma Russell was sin-binned due to her side having an extra player on the field. Down a player, Sarah Hawkshaw scored to make it 2-1. Duke was proving a strong influence and she went close to getting her side back on terms before Railway set about killing off the game.

Hawkshaw was denied by Hannah Magnan while a corner came to nothing before Niamh Sweeney slotted the clincher following Hawkshaw and Emma Smyth’s approach work.

Pegasus 1 (N McIvor) Cork Harlequins 0

Niamh McIvor’s first senior goal for Pegasus with nine minutes to go continued Pegasus’s winning start to the season, making it three victories in a row. It gives them a three-point lead at the head of the table but they were made to work throughout by Cork Harlequins.

Pegasus skipper Michelle Harvey went close in the first-half when she saw her penalty corner saved at full-stretch by Kate Murphy.​

Early in the second half, Alex Speers shot narrowly wide and then had a goal disallowed 18 minutes later because the ball had struck her foot before she shot.​

But Belfast Royal Academy student McIvor sealed the deal with nine minutes remaining when she fired home from close-range.

UCD 1 (N Carey) Pembroke 0

UCD finally got the win their play deserved at the third attempt as Niamh Carey’s third quarter goal earned them a 1-0 win, breaking Pembroke’s winning run into the bargain. The students saw three first quarter penalty corners slip by as they ended the first half scoreless. 

But the goal finally came after the big break from a counter-attack goal all the way up the pitch which fell to Niamh Carey who slotted home.

They produced some lovely, fast-paced stuff with Ellen Curran and the Carey twins Michelle and Niamh while Katherine Egan’s reverse stopped. Pembroke pushed hard for an equaliser in the closing minutes but Sarah Patton was excellent in defence to help carry the day.

UCD’s Niamh Carey scored their crucial goal on Sunday. Pic: Adrian Boehm

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