Evans strike sees Hermes-Monkstown again summon winner at the death

Hermes-Monkstown 3 (L McInerney, C Watkins, N Evans) Cork Harlequins 2 (R Barry, Y O’Byrne)
Nikki Evans’s last minute winner saw Hermes-Monkstown maintain their perfect start to the campaign following a huge tussle with Cork Harlequins whose 100% run came to an end as a result.

Liz McInerney gave the hosts an early lead from the first of many corners on the day, scrambling home from close range to get the vital touch. Rebecca Barry equalised before the end of the first quarter, though, when she got on the end of a brilliant cross.

Quins then moved ahead following a great run by Yvonne O’Byrne, creating space in the circle and hammering home. Their momentum was slowed, however, when Barry was shown a yellow card for dissent as temperatures rose with both sides contesting many decisions.

Hermes-Monkstown got back on terms in the second half from their fifth corner with Chloe Watkins slapping home from the top of the circle. Quins, though, bossed the period either side of the three-quarter break and forced a couple of top saves from Liz Murphy.

Amber Barnwell had to scoop another chance off the line while O’Byrne deflected one corner inches wide. Two corner shots were blocked from a clever defensive running pattern – foregoing a number one runner to hang back and eliminate switch options – with Anna O’Flanagan and Sarah Greene cleaning up the chances.

Hermes-Monkstown withstood that spell and duly forged the crucial chance in the closing seconds, working the ball to Evans at the top with her back to goal from where she unleashed a low reverse that the impressive Emma Buckley could not get enough of a boot on with the ball pinging in off her toe and off the post and in.

Liz McInerney celebrates making it 1-0 to Hermes-Monkstown. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Liz McInerney celebrates making it 1-0 to Hermes-Monkstown. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Belfast Harlequins 0 Ards 2 (C Brown, K Harvey)
Ards made it three wins in succession to continue their rise away from the bottom of the table as goals from Chloe Brown and Kerry Harvey lifts them to the top half of the table for the first time.

They served notice of their attacking intent in the fourth minute via a Jayne Kilpatrick run and strike that Jade Lamont saved well while Chloe Brown’s corner shot was deflected over.

Both goals came in the second quarter with Brown showing a sublime piece of individual skill to create space on the left which allowed her to fire a low reverse into the net. Good team play then led to Harvey tapping in at the far post in the 32nd minute for a 2-0 half-time lead.

Quins best chance came in the second half when Claire Kilpatrick’s corner shot was cleared off the line but they were unable to find a route back into the tie with Ards closing out the game well.

Loreto 3 (N Small, F McDermott, S Evans) Pembroke 1 (J Ringwood)
Loreto grabbed their third win of the campaign with a 3-1 win over Pembroke to move into sixth place as Pembroke remain in search of their opening points of the campaign.

Anna O'Flanagan holds off Cork Harlequins' Cliodhna Sargent. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Anna O’Flanagan holds off Cork Harlequins’ Cliodhna Sargent. Pic: Adrian Boehm

The Beaufort side – powered by Hannah Matthews’ balls from the back – forced the issue in the first quarter, winning three corners with no return in the first quarter.

The second quarter saw the goals come with Nikki Keegan and Ali Meeke’s work rate and determination to drive the midfield forward was key. Meeke found Niamh Small who finished well for 1-0. Freya McDermott then swept home a corner to double the half-time advantage.

With Orla Macken to the fore, Pembroke changed things up in the second half and got a foothold in the game after the big break. They got their reward when Jilly Ringwood fired home a backhand shot to bring the game right back into the mix.

And it stayed that way until the dying moments as Pembroke defended well but were caught at the death. Meeke linked up with Keegan to deliver a well-worked passage of play down the right side and into the path of Sarah Evans to finish off in a clinical manner.

UCD 3 (S Clarke 2, G Pinder) Pegasus 2 (V Surgeoner, A Speers)
UCD moved into second place as Sorcha Clarke’s double under-pinned their fifth win from six outings. They lead 2-0 from the outset, Gillian Pinder breaking the line from a counter-attack and finishing with a composed strike for 1-0. Clarke deflected home a cross to extend the advantage.

Alex Speers got one back for Pegasus from an attack along the baseline but Clarke finished off a fantastic team goal – with strong build-up work by Emma Russell and Sarah O’Loughlin – to make it 3-1 in the third quarter.

Pegasus bossed the final quarter and got back within range when Vanessa Surgeoner scored from a corner. Despite a flurry of further corners in the closing minutes, Pegs could not find an equaliser with captain Sarah Robinson leading by example for UCD in defence for a hard-fought win.

Nikki Evans celebrates her late winner against Cork Harlequins. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Nikki Evans celebrates her late winner against Cork Harlequins. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Railway Union 4 (M Carey 2, E Smyth, C Joyce) Ulster Elks 2 (H Irwin 2)
Railway ended a run of three consecutive defeats to return to the top four thanks to a 4-2 win over Ulster Elks at Park Avenue. They were out of the blocks the quickest and went 1-0 up in the 11th minute when Emma Smyth drove around the top of the circle and flashed her shot past Rebecca Davidson.

Elks sat deep for the remainder of the quarter with Canadian Anna Kozniuk controlling things for her team in the middle of the pitch.

Nonetheless, Railway continued in the box seat with Michelle Cary, Emma Smyth, Kate McKenna and Hannah de Burgh Whyte creating chances. Two minutes before the break, Cecelia Joyce’s shot was deflected into the goal by Michelle Carey for 2-0.

Ulster Elks marked their intention to take a more attacking approach in the second half, winning the first corner of the game but Kozniuk’s shot was saved by Grace O’Flanagan.

Railway then resumed their ascendancy with Michelle Carey waltzing past a number of players into the circle and round the keeper to get Railway’s third. She went close to a hat trick moments later before Joyce got her side’s fourth goal, finishing off a lovely passing movement through the circle.

Elks got a couple back in the closing quarter from Hannah Irwin but it was too little too late for the Jordanstown outfit.

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