Pegasus move back into lead as all five women’s EYHL ties survive Storm Dennis

Women’s EY Hockey League – day 10 round-up

Belfast Harlequins 1 (L Hamilton) Old Alexandra 2 (M O’Donnell, J Deacon)

At Deramore, Harlequins had the bulk of the possession and scoring chances but Old Alex showed the more clinical touch in front of goal.

Almost immediately after Serena Barr had a ‘goal’ disallowed from a penalty corner, Alex went ahead in the 17th minute when Millie O’Donnell fired home another set-piece with a direct shot.

UCD’s Ellen Curran lines up a shot under pressure from Cork Harlequins’ Yvonne O’Byrne. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Four minutes from half-time, the Dublin side made it 2-0, Jamie Deacon deflecting a cross from Pia Diepman high into the net for a brilliant goal.

The second-half belonged to Harlequins and Jenna Watt, Barr and Claire Weir all had efforts saved by Alex keeper Carolyn Crampton in the early stages.

Quins then missed a glorious opportunity to reduce the arrears as they failed to convert a two-on-one breakaway, Watt’s shot being stopped by Crampton in the 55th minute and Weir’s follow-up suffering a similar fate.

Two minutes later, Watt’s frustration was clear to see when the Alex keeper raced off her line to deny her again from a penalty corner switch back to the injector.

Irish international Nikki Evans fired wide on her backhand three minutes later following a lovely counter attack after being set up by Deirdre Duke and Isabella Dunlop.

Quins finally got on the scoresheet with the last play of the game when Lizzie Colvin’s shot took a Linzi Hamilton deflection at a set-piece but it was too little, too late.

UCD 0 Cork Harlequins 1 (Y O’Byrne)  

Yvonne O’Byrne’s single goal from a penalty corner deflection saw Cork Harlequins grab their second win of 2020 as they defended superbly to keep UCD scoreless at Belfield.

They managed to stay level in the first quarter as Niamh Carey, Abbie Russell and Lena Tice all went close but it was the visitors who took the initiative in the second quarter. And when the students’ corner team was reduced in numbers for breaking the line early, Harlequins played a clever corner move which O’Byrne guided in for the game’s only goal.

UCD returned to the ascendancy in the third quarter as they camped in Harlequins’ half for long portions but could not find a way through the defences of Kate Murphy and her defensive team.

It was their second win in three outings since the turn of the year and coach Darren Collins says O’Byrne’s influence since coming back from a foot injury has been vital.

“She is massive for us and one of the best players in the country,” he said. “I can’t believe she is not in the Irish squad; it doesn’t make any sense to me because she was head and shoulders above everyone else out there.

“We had the conditions in the first half; the second, that wind seemed to kick up another 10 or 20 knots. It was always going to be difficult but the girls defended with their lives in that last quarter.

“UCD were probably a bit unlucky but our keeper had a fantastic game – she had some bad luck last week but came up trumps this time!”

Loreto 1 (N Daly) Pembroke1 (G Pinder)

Loreto and Pembroke shared the spoils to see the former drop off top spot – albeit with a game in hand – following their tie at a rain-soaked Beaufort. Pembroke started strong, winning a trio of penalty corners as they edged the first quarter but all were well defended.

The Ballsbridge side, though, did go in front a couple of minutes into the second quarter with Gillian Pinder on the mark from play. The advantage did not last long, however, as Nicci Daly – back after a lengthy break – made an instant impact when she finished off from a lovely lay-off from Siofra O’Brien.

Liz Murphy’s defence remained busy in the second half, clearing a chance off the line as both teams had their moments. Ali Meeke and Sarah Torrans went close in the closing quarter but Pembroke had their point, making it four out of six against the Beaufort side this term.

Muckross 1 (S McAuley) Catholic Institute 2 (L Foley, N Carroll)

Catholic Institute moved out of the relegation playoff place with what could prove a vitally important away win at Muckross in a howling gale on Marlborough Road as tough conditions made free-flowing hockey difficult at times.

Harlequins’ goalkeeper Kate Murphy saves. Pic: Adrian Boehm

After a scoreless first half, the game burst into life in the third quarter after an excellent finish by Laura Foley who hopped in front of her marker to get a stick to a Rosie Pratt pass. The quality of the move and finish saw the ball fly into the top corner, something which was required to beat Ellie McLoughlin who was in exceptional form.

Muckross levelled quickly from a Sarah McAuley effort from a penalty corner but the Limerick side got back in front when Roisin Begley – one of the game’s star performers – crossed from the left to Leah Clery whose backhand pass found Naomi Carroll. She rounded McLoughlin and her shot was credited as the final touch – it was hard to establish whether it had crossed the line but Foley followed up from close range to make sure.

Pegasus 2 (L McKee 2) Railway Union 1 (K Lloyd)

Pegasus returned to the top of the women’s EYHL table as they found the best part of an otherwise miserable day weather-wise to grind out a 2-1 win over Railway Union.

Pegasus were quicker to settle into their rhythm, dominating the first quarter. They won two penalty corners in the first five minutes, converting the second one via a Lucy McKee deflection. Railway replied almost immediately, intercepting a loose pass and countering to great affect with a well-taken reverse by Kate Lloyd from Sarah Hawkshaw’s ball through. 

Railway played well in the second quarter and had chances from Lily Lloyd and Hawkshaw to take the lead but some excellent work by the Pegasus goalkeeper Megan Todd meant that the scores were level at half time. 

During the third quarter, McKee rocketed the ball into the roof of the net over Riona Norton with a sensational strike, giving Pegasus a 2-1 lead and allowing the home team to control the final quarter despite Railway going to 11 outfield players for the final seven minutes.

During that time, there was one worrying moment for Pegs when Railway’s final short corner struck the backboard; however, after consultation, the umpires agreed the initial shot was too high and the score remained 2-1 to Pegasus.  

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