Women’s EY Hockey League
Railway Union 1 (J O’Halloran) Hermes-Monkstown 2 (R Carrigan, C Watkins)
Railway Union missed a big opportunity to end Hermes-Monkstown’s perfect record as they put the champions to the pin of their collar at Park Avenue.
Although Rosie Carrigan put the visitors in front from a fifth-minute penalty corner, Julia O’Halloran’s pot shot brought Railway level shortly afterwards and they saw three first-half corners go without conversion.
Hermes-Monkstown dinged the post in a high-quality encounter, while Grace McLoughlin took one off the line for Railway and Hermes-Monkstown keeper Liz Murphy was alert to deny Sinead Dooley at the other end.
Chloe Watkins put the visitors ahead from the spot after a quick breakaway yielded a penalty stroke opportunity, and a frantic finale saw both sides create plenty of chances, Railway’s Maja Heiden firing the best of them over the bar.
Hermes-Monkstown stay top of the table after five wins from five, and face joint leaders Cork Harlequins at Rathdown in a vital clash next week.
Cork Harlequins 4 (Y O’Byrne, K Bateman, N Kerr, R Barry) Belfast Harlequins 2 (C Weir 2)
Cork Harlequins continue to match Hermes/Monkstown every step of the way as they comfortably kept their perfect record intact against their Belfast namesakes at Farmer’s Cross.
Yvonne O’Byrne rewarded their early pressure with a penalty corner deflection in the eighth minute preceding a busy second quarter in which Quins built a 3-1 half-time lead.
Karen Bateman was on hand to finish from close range after Rebecca Barry’s deflection wrong-footed Belfast Harlequins keeper Jade Lamont, before Claire Weir hit back for the Ulster girls with a corner rebound.
A similar scramble in front of the net at the other end saw Nicola Kerr pounce to re-establish a two-goal cushion, before Barry provided the game’s highlight with a lethal reverse-stick strike to the bottom corner after being picked out by Cliodhna Sargent’s searching through ball.
Weir calmly slotted a one-on-one opportunity with home keeper Emma Buckley at the start of the final quarter to give her side hope. But Cork Harlequins closed the game out in relative comfort and also handed a debut to recent Ireland call-up Roisin Upton, the Limerick native arriving as a two-time American national champion with the University of Connecticut.
Pembroke Wanderers 1 (E Horan) UCD 2 (E Russell, L Ewart)
UCD remain unbeaten and have emerged as the biggest threat to the top two, but were made to work hard for their fourth win in five outings by basement side Pembroke Wanderers.
A low-key first half yielded lots of UCD corners but no breakthrough and Pembroke looked far more dangerous after the break with UCD keeper Clodagh Cassin needing to be sharp to deny Erica Markey’s one-on-one chance.
Eanna Horan gave Pembroke a surprise lead from her side’s first corner but then missed a sitter to make it 2-0, and UCD punished the hosts to end the quarter in front. Emma Russell capitalised on a turnover near the Pembroke 22 to round the goalkeeper and equalise, before Leah Ewart crashed home a powerful short corner shot.
That proved the end of the scoring and despite a much-improved performance, Pembroke are still looking for their first point of the campaign while UCD lie in third, two points off the top two.
Pegasus 2 (S Beaney, H Grieve) Loreto 2 (S Evans, L O’Leary)
Pegasus’ inconsistencies continue to deter their hopes of challenging for the EYHL title as they were fortunate to escape with a draw from newly-promoted Loreto.
The hosts took the lead in unusual circumstances, as Suzanne Beaney’s pressing saw a loose ball around the Loreto backline headed goalwards. Goalkeeper Louisa Healy was content to leave it go for a long corner but it rebounded back into play off the post, and Beaney was quickest to react.
The pace of the game dropped thereafter with neither side threatening much, but it took another rearguard error to spark it into life. A slow ball in the Pegasus backline was picked off by Sarah Evans and she cooly finished to level for Loreto.
Loreto then went in front in somewhat controversial circumstances, as Lauren O’Leary’s high ball across goal ricocheted into the goal off Michelle Harvey, making her return to the Pegs team after a 10-month injury absence and a couple of seasons playing in Belgium.
Pegs held their nerve though, and another defensive error gifted them a penalty corner just before the final whistle. With the game’s final opportunity, Hannah Grieve found the bottom corner to rescue a share of the spoils.
The Belfast side are in fourth place but are five points adrift of UCD one place above them, having now gone three games without victory. Loreto drop to seventh but are well in touch in a congested mid-table.
Ulster Elks 1 (E O’Leary) Ards 2 (C Brown, L McKee)
Ards handed Ulster Elks their fourth defeat of the campaign and have moved clear of the relegation zone in what could prove to be a significant victory come the end of the campaign.
Both sides have struggled to find the net this term with only Pembroke scoring less, but Chloe Brown made no mistake from a 14th-minute corner to reward her side’s bright opening at Jordanstown.
The game descended into a midfield battle for long periods thereafter until the Elks won a slew of penalty corners, but they couldn’t find a way back into the game.
Lucy McKee punished their profligacy with a breakaway goal to give Ards some breathing space, all the more necessary after former Cork Harlequins and UCC player Emily O’Leary got a touch to Shirley McCay’s searching ball into the circle to get the Elks back into it.
That set them up for a big final heave in search of an equaliser, but Ards held out and now move up to sixth following their second win of the campaign with the Elks remaining in eighth.