Honours even for UCD and Hermes-Monkstown in high class, top-table draw

Women’s EY Hockey League – week nine round-up
Saturday: Cork Harlequins 1 (Y O’Byrne) Railway Union 3 (K McKenna, S Dooley, A-M Whelan)

Railway Union picked off a significant victory over Cork Harlequins at Farmer’s Cross to move back into the top five of the division. The visitors were the dominant force in the opening stages in terms of territory and possession, winning a corner inside a minute as Emma Smyth made her presence felt.

The Dubliners went into the lead in the 29th minute from a penalty corner with Anna May Whelan getting the final touch from a penalty corner. The lead didn’t last long however. Yvonne O’Byrne broke through a few tackles before shooting on her reverse into the bottom left corner to make it 1-1 at the break.

Pegasus's Alex Speers tries to hold off Ards' Kerri McDonald. Pic: Billy Pollock (click image for more pics)

Pegasus’s Alex Speers tries to hold off Ards’ Kerri McDonald. Pic: Billy Pollock (click image for more pics)

The third quarter saw the ball move from end to end of the pitch with neither side holding possession well, setting up a big final quarter. Harlequins had a big chance to take the lead when Rebecca Barry put her namesake Michelle, through on goal. She waited for Grace O’Flanagan to go down before flicking the ball over her only for the ball to clip the outside of the post and go wide.

Almost immediately, Railway made it 2-1 at the other end. Sinead Dooley found herself in a similar position to Barry, played through by McKenna, but her finish eluded the on rushing Emma Buckley to nestle just inside the post.

The home side pushed forward in search of an equalised & forced a penalty corner that they could not convert. In the last minute, Kate McKenna finished the game, tapping in at the back post to make it 3-1 to the visitors. It was a lovely team goal involving Smyth and Whelan with McKenna getting the final touch.

Loreto 2 (H McDermott, F McDermott) Belfast Harlequins 0
Loreto strengthened their position in fourth place as the McDermott sisters Freya and Hannah helped score a 2-0 win over Belfast Harlequins. After a strong midfield tussle in the first half between Ali Meeke and Gemma Frazer, Loreto showed some real vigour towards the end of the first quarter and took the lead through Freya McDermott from a corner.

Lizzie Colvin, after a few weeks out injured, added extra punch to Loreto’s play and the began to dominate the play as time wore on. Quins found themselves under pressure at times but Orlagh O’Sheas’s calmness and awareness was key to keeping out any further attacks. But Loreto’s persistence paid off and a lovely interchange between Christina Hamill and Hannah McDermott resulted in the second goal before the big break.

Pegasus's Rachel McMillan on the attack. Pic: Bully Pollock (click image for more pics)

Pegasus’s Rachel McMillan on the attack. Pic: Bully Pollock (click image for more pics)

It led to a more urgent second half performance from Quins with Frazer pulling the strings while strong running from Laura Johnston started to pay dividends. Loreto did create some chances. Niamh Small showing her experience, breaking down Harlequins defence with some clever interchange work with Mia Jennings. Hayley Mulcahy’s pace was causing havoc, too, but no further goals accrued in a scrappy closing quarter.

Ulster Elks 2 (D Axon, D Wilson) Pembroke 2 (C Hill, R Scott)
Pembroke finally got off the mark in the women’s EY Hockey League as they drew 2-2 at fellow strugglers Ulster Elks in Jordanstown, keeping it very tight at the bottom of the table.

Neither side were able to gain much of the ascendancy in the first half with precious few clear chances. But the game game to life in the second half when Dawn Axon – a return-signing for the Elks after a brief spell with Pegasus – breaking into the circle and hammering a low reverse stick shot into the goal.

Pembroke fought back immediately and goot a short corner and were awarded a stroke for a foot on the line. Rachael Scott scored for 1-1. It set up a frantic final quarter with Elks pressing. Danni Wilson deflected in from a cross to put Elks ahead once again. But from the restart, Elks got a green card and Pembroke broke with a cross which Caroline Hill tapped in.

Pegasus 1 (S Ferris) Ards 1 (L McKee)
Pegasus and Ards shared the spoils to leave them sitting seventh and sixth palce respectively at the midway point in the women’s EY Hockey League. The hosts had several early chances with Hannah Grieve’s searching passes just going out of reach of their forwards.

Suzanne Ferris celebrates her equaliser for Pegasus. Pic: Billy Pollock (click image for more pics)

Suzanne Ferris celebrates her equaliser for Pegasus. Pic: Billy Pollock (click image for more pics)

Suzanne Ferris went close, too, with a well-timed deflection but Ashley McIlroy saved well. Ards were starting to build play up and take a little bit more control as first half ended scoreless. It stayed that way until 10 minutes from time when Ards took the lead from their first corner of the game.

The initial shot from the edge was well saved by Sammy Jo Greer but Ards were first to react and Lucy McKee put the visitors ahead.

Pegasus, though, fought back quickly with Hannah Craig’s cross finding Ferris at the back post unmarked to level the scores. And they had a chance of winning it on the final whistle when from a corner when it was Katie McKee who tried to steal the headlines but her shot was blocked and Ards cleared their lines.

Sunday: UCD 1 (S Clarke) Hermes-Monkstown 1 (R Carrigan)
UCD ended Hermes-Monkstown’s perfect record in the women’s EY Hockey League but the visitors to Belfield remain four points clear at the head of the table at the halfway stage. It was a tie in which fortunes swung dramatically from end to end with both teams having their moments but a draw was probably a fair result.

The first half was helter-skelter with big chances at either end right from the start. Hermes-Monkstown’s first corner saw Clodagh Cassin save well from Chloe Watkins while UCD fluffed a three-on-one counter-attack. Suzie Kelly then swept a Lena Tice corner shot off the line before the visitors took the lead on the first quarter hooter.

Watkins’s disguised pass was smart, picking out Rosie Carrigan who slid onto the ball for 1-0. UCD, though, had a string of corners of their own with Katie Mullan playing a key role along with the immaculate Tice.

Twins Kerry and Michelle Harvey congratulate each other following a 1-1 draw between Ards and Pegasus. Pic: Billy Pollock (click image for more pics)

Twins Kerry and Michelle Harvey congratulate each other following a 1-1 draw between Ards and Pegasus. Pic: Billy Pollock (click image for more pics)

The sweeper created the opening for the equaliser when she beat a couple of players before laying off to Gillian Pinder. Her cracking shot was saved by Liz Murphy but only as far as Sorcha Clarke who popped home from close range.

It remained 1-1 through the third quarter in spite of a concerted Hermes-Monkstown spell of attacking with Anna O’Flanagan and Nikki Evans going close. UCD had the best of the early stages of the final quarter but were almost caught at the death when Evans won a corner. O’Flanagan worked an opening to shoot but Mullan charged it down, meaning it was honours even.

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