Old Alex take over the top as Insta end 110-year wait for win over Pegasus

Women’s EYHL – day 11 match reports

Old Alex 2 (J Deacon, M O’Donnell) Muckross 0

Old Alex became the third different leader of the women’s EY Hockey League in 2020 as they made it 16 points out of the last 18 available, putting them ahead of Pegasus on goal difference.

Alex were on top in the early stages, winning a couple of corners as Nikki Evans, Orna Bools and Deirdre Duke offered a threat while Emile Ryan Doyle and Audrey O’Flynn impressed at the back.

Jeamie Deacon put them in front from a third corner, Millie O’Donnell’s disguised pass finding the touch for 1-0. Muckross came more into in the third quarter with a rocket shot from Anna O’Flanagan blocked at Pam Smithwick at point blank range.

She also dealt with Sarah McAuley’s disguised shot before O’Donnell got the crucial second goal with less than four minutes to go with a cool finish. It came from a mistrapped corner which she took on, spinning around the first runner and slapped in.

Smithwick kept her clean sheet with a fine stop from Jessica McGirr to maintain the 2-0 lead.

Catholic Institute 4 (C O’Shea, L Foley, R Upton, N Carroll) Pegasus 2 (E Armstrong, T Doherty)

Catholic Institute continued their super run of form to beat the league leaders Pegasus for the first time in the club’s 110-year history, adding to their excellent run of seven points from the last nine available.

Both sides were down personnel with Shirley McCay sustaining a couple of broken toes last week – though she is due to return soon – while youth internationals Niamh McIvor, Charlotte Beggs (both Pegasus) and Sarah Fitzgerald (Insta) rested after their weeks’ exertions. Indeed, the Ulster side used just 12 players for the tie.

Christine O’Shea put the Limerick side 1-0 up in the 12th minute but Ella Armstrong replied soon after for the Ulster side; it remained 1-1 through to half time despite non-stop pressure from the hosts.

But they went back in front a minute into the second half when Laura Foley forced home from a barrage of shots, Megan Todd saving twice before the ball the forward’s way. Roisin Upton made it 3-1 five minutes later for an imposing advantage and the win was made safe from the moment of the day.

Naomi Carroll got on the end of some quick passing to lift the ball out of a few tackles with some neat 3D skills and then clipped home with an upright reverse-stick shot. Taite Doherty pulled one back with five minutes left but Insta had their win.

Cork Harlequins 2 (M Barry, E O’Leary) Belfast Harlequins 1 (J Watt)

Cork won the battle of the Harlequins to make it four wins from their last five games, moving them level with fifth placed Pembroke having been in the relegation playoff spot before this recent run.

They trailed early on to a Jenna Watt goal, deflecting in from Lizzie Colvin’s push across goal and it might have been worse in the second quarter but they survived the concession of a penalty stroke which Watt was unable to convert.

Belfast were the side in the ascendancy, playing some strong hockey while Cork looked dangerous on the counter and they got level from that route. Belfast had a couple of corners only for the hosts to race out of defence to set up Michelle Barry to whip home the equaliser in the 40th minute at the second attempt after her first effort was blocked.

And in a dramatic last six minutes, Barry was shown a yellow card but her side managed to get the winner from a penalty corner courtesy of Emily O’Leary, a confident slap from the second phase from the right of the circle.

UCD 1 (S Young) Loreto 1 (H Matthews)

UCD and Loreto shared the spoils to leave them in fourth and third place, respectively, after their high octane draw at Belfield. Sarah Young put the students in front in the 22nd minute of a fairly tight first half with few chances.

But Loreto were back on terms on the half hour when Hannah Matthews slotted a penalty stroke – after an initial penalty corner – and while the students had the best of the second half openings, the Beaufort side’s corner defence held firm to keep the game level.

Loreto coach Paul Fitzpatrick said of the result: “UCD is always tough, young and fit and it can be hard to play at the tempo and stay mentally in tune and I thought we played a good game as did UCD. I felt if we got corners, we would convert because our corners have been good recently.

His UCD counterpart Miles Warren added: “It was a very good game and I thought we played some phenomenal hockey, moved the ball well and created so many chances. They defended extremely well but we still won our corners and had our shots but couldn’t put it away. It was probably the best we have played this season based on the quality of opposition we were playing against.

“We had them pinned back in that last quarter and we couldn’t much more than that; we just need the ball to go in the net.”

They are back in action on Thursday night against Old Alex as games come thick and fast before the Irish senior women go into camp again.

“In this three weeks, we are going to play six EYHL matches so this period is really doing to define the season, starting with Thursday against Alex who are now top. They are a team who are growing and a high quality outfit now.”

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