Kelly snatches vital EYHL lifeline for Belfast Quins as Insta hold Loreto

Women’s EY Hockey League

 Belfast Harlequins 4 (L Geddes, C Weir, J Watt, A Kelly) Railway Union 3 (L Lloyd 2, K Dillon)

Belfast Harlequins threw themselves a relegation lifeline after Alex Kelly’s dramatic last gasp goal secured them their first victory of the season, writes John Flack.

Railway Union went into the game five points better off than Quins, who remain at the bottom of the table, but have now closed the gap to just two although the Dubliners have played a game less

Belfast Harlequins earned their first win of the season. Pic: Billy Pollock

It would have been a very different scenario had Harlequins not scored with the last play of the game when Kelly deflected home a penalty corner for the winner.

Now though, Phil Mills’s team have a fighting chance of avoiding automatic relegation from the top-flight for the first time.

The Quins coach declared: “It was a crucial win for us and we’ve everything to play for going forward with six games to turn things around, including the return fixture in Dublin.”

“We didn’t play our best hockey of the season and we were on the back foot for much of the second-half but the result was the most important thing.”

Harlequins broke the deadlock with a superb goal in the seventh minute, Lucy Geddes finishing clinically as she rounded the keeper before firing home after latching on to a great through ball from Julie Dennison. The home team doubled their advantage 11 minutes later when Claire Weir netted from a penalty corner deflection.

But Quins were rocked back on their heels when Railway fought back to equalise with two goals in the space of six minutes before the break. Lily Lloyd got them both, first netting from close-range after latching on to a cross from Sarah Hawkshaw and then adding a similar effort in the 29th minute.

The Leinster side went on to dominate possession for most of the second-half but were unable to add to their tally. Quins regained the lead in the 64th minute when Jenna Watt hammered in a set-piece but Railway levelled within 90 seconds as Kate Dillon netted a fine goal with a first time shot after being set up by Lily Lloyd. 

Quins won two corners in quick succession as the clock ticked down and Kelly grabbed the all-important goal from the second award from Serena Barry’s assist and there wasn’t time to restart the game. 

Loreto 1 (H Mulcahy) Catholic Institute 1 (R Upton)

Catholic Institute picked up another handy point on the road as leaders Loreto extended their lead at the top but not to the fullest extent.

Roisin Upton was immense for the Limerick side as she cleaned up a huge amount of ball from her sweeper role and she also opened the scoring when she whizzed in a drag-flick.

It came in the sixth minute from a penalty corner from Insta’s first attack of note after Loreto had made the livelier start to the contest. The Beaufort side would go on to have plenty of chances in the first half with Institute doing a lot of defending.

They held out until the third quarter when Hayley Mulcahy fired home a beautiful reverse-stick shot to make it 1-1. Loreto had the greater chances to win it in the final quarter but they could not get their corner machine up and running. 

Loreto lead by three points now but with a game extra played than nearest rivals Old Alex and Pegasus, both of whom saw their Saturday fixtures postponed due to the weather. Insta edge above Muckross into seventh place.

UCD v Muckross – abandoned in the second quarter as the wind started to move the goalposts.

Postponed due to anticipated bad weather: Old Alexandra v Cork Harlequins, Pembroke Wanderers v Pegasus

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