Loreto make big move to close the gap on Pegasus

Women’s EY Hockey League

Saturday

Belfast Harlequins 2 (J Dennison, J Watt) Pegasus 4 (S McCay 2, L McKee, N McIvor)

Pegasus moved five points clear at the top of the EY Irish Hockey League on Saturday evening following this comfortable win over Harlequins at Deramore. Pegs led 2-0 and 4-1 but their hosts battled all the way and enjoyed plenty of possession in the second-half although they were unable to match the champions’ more clinical touch in front of goal.

Harlequins coach Phil Mills said: “I thought we showed them too much respect in the first-half but we fought back well although we’re naturally disappointed to lose.”

Shirley McCay broke the deadlock in the 10th minute when she slapped home the opening penalty corner of the game.

Six minutes later, Lucy McKee doubled the Pegasus lead when she was on hand to tuck home a rebound from McCay’s initial shot. In the 25th minute, Julie Dennison reduced the deficit with a brilliant run and shot after working her way along the baseline after latching on to a Jenna Watt pass. 

But Quins conceded shortly afterwards, McCay driving home another set-piece with the aid of a defender’s deflection to make it 3-1 at the break. Niamh McIvor added number four three minutes after the restart, deflecting in McCay’s corner to virtually settle the contest.

In the 49th minute, Watt pulled another goal back from a penalty corner variation after delivering the injection but Quins were unable to add to their tally, despite some late pressure.

Catholic Institute 2 (E Ryan, R Pratt) Cork Harlequins 3 (E O’Leary, A O’Shea, L O’Shea)

Cork Harlequins recorded their first win of the season to jump above their Munster rivals, coming from a goal down in Rosbrien. Emer Ryan got the only goal of the first half to give Insta a 1-0 lead.

Quins started the second half more aggressively and began to create chances with Emma Barber, Niamh O’Leary and Leah O’Shea putting in strong performances while the Limerick hosts looked dangerous on the counter via Naomi Carroll.

The game turned with two goals in quick succession in the third quarter via Emily O’Leary and Amy O’Shea before Leah O’Shea gave them an insurance goal with five minutes to go.

Rosie Pratt pulled one back in an end-to-end final five minutes, profiting from a turnover, but Harlequins held on for the result.

Loreto 3 (G Donald, S Evans, H Matthews) Railway Union 2 (Z Delany, S Hawkshaw)

Loreto moved into second place on Saturday evening with a feisty 3-2 win over Railway Union at Beaufort with goals late in the second, third and fourth quarters, Hannah Matthews winning the day with less than two minutes to go.

Zara Delany gave Railway a first quarter lead when a penalty corner was not fully cleared. Grace Donald, however, equalised on the stroke of half-time and the hosts went in front from play in the 52nd minute thanks to skipper Sarah Evans from play.

Sarah Hawkshaw levelled the game at 2-2 with nine minutes to go, leaving it all to play for but it was Loreto who grabbed the winner from a penalty corner, Matthews with a direct hit from the top of the D.

Pembroke Wanderers 1 (A Naughton) Muckross 2 (S Cannon, S Barnwell)

Muckross moved up to sixth place as Sophie Barnwell’s 50th minute goal earned them a 2-1 win over Dublin 4 rivals Pembroke at Serpentine Avenue, their second victory of the campaign. It was all square at half-time with Susie Cannon opening the scoring before Aisling Naughton was credited with the Pembroke goal to make it 1-1.

The crucial moment saw Barnwell on the back post to tap in after a lovely piece of skill from Anna O’Flanagan from a penalty corner. Pembroke had plenty of pressure in the closing phases but Muckross held on for an important win.

Sunday

Catholic Institute 2 (R Pratt, N Carroll) Loreto 4 (H Matthews, S Torrans, J Meeke, S O’Brien)

Loreto cut the gap at the top of the women’s EY Hockey League to two points with a strong away win in Limerick to complete their pre-Christmas series in second place. It was built around a strong first quarter in which both Sarah Torrans and Siofra O’Brien found the net with Jessica Meeke adding the third goal from a corner for 3-0.

Rosie Pratt pulled one back from a corner and it was game on in the second half when Naomi Carroll chipped in. But Hannah Matthews got the last goal of the game for the second day in a row from a corner for a vital three points on the road.  

UCD 2 (L Tice, N Carey) Old Alex 2 (D Duke 2)

Two Deirdre Duke goals in three minutes along with a Carolyn Crampton penalty stroke save combined to earn Old Alex a 2-2 draw, keeping them in third place in the table with UCD in fifth.

The students dominated large tranches of the contest but they could not make full use of their opening and ended up paying the price. They did go 1-0 up in the eighth minute when Michelle Carey did much of the approach work and Lena Tice finished off a great goal.

It stayed that way until three minutes into the second half when they produced another classy team goal, Ellen Curran passing to Michelle Carey and on to Sarah Young in the D. She picked out the perfect ball for Niamh Carey to slot home.

But from Alex’s first corner, Deirdre Duke found the net in the 47th minute and three minutes later, she had her second to level the match at 2-2. It opened the gate for an end-to-end final quarter with both sides having their chances but none more than Tice from the penalty spot after a foul on Niamh Carey. Crampton denied her, however, and so Alex retained their hold on a point.

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