All five of the women’s EY Hockey League Division 1 ties defied the weather to serve up a series of close-run battles with Pegasus moving back out on their own at the top of the table.
Women’s EYHL Division 1 – extended reports
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.
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.
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.
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.
Railway played well in the second quarter and had chances to take the lead, but some squandered chances and 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 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.
EYHL Division 2 round-up
Corinthian became the first team to confirm their place in the semi-finals of EYHL Division 2 as they ran up their sixth successive win in Pool A, beating NUIG 5-1.
Amber Kinlan put them in pole position from the outset with a second minute goal and she then helped created another for Nicola Torrans at the back post for a 2-0 lead.
NUIG pulled one back via Sinead Minihan before the end of the first quarter but the buffer was back in place when Cilia Holderman assisted Jodie Douglas for 3-1 at half-time. Jessica McGrane finished between her legs for goal four and Niamh Walsh completed the win from a tight angle in the final quarter.
Chasers Lurgan and Trinity, meanwhile, shared a 1-1 draw which leaves them both 10 points back. After initial Lurgan pressure, it was Trinity who went in front in the second quarter via Ailish Long before Julie Morrow equalised soon after half-time.
And the Ulster side hung on to parity in the closing minutes when they survived four penalty corners for Trinity. Lurgan have the edge on goal difference in the battle for the second place in the group but have played an extra game which could be vital.
Both games in Pool B were postponed due to Storm Dennis with UCC against Ards and Greenfields’ tie with Monkstown succumbing to the weather.
EYHL Division 1: Belfast Harlequins 1 (L Hamilton) Old Alexandra 2 (M O’Donnell, J Deacon); Loreto 1 (N Daly) Pembroke 1 (G Pinder); Muckross 1 (S McAuley) Catholic Institute 2 (L Foley, N Carroll); Pegasus 2 (L McKee 2) Railway Union 1 (K Lloyd); UCD 0 Cork Harlequins 1 (Y O’Byrne)
EYHL Division 2 – Pool A: Corinthian 5 (A Kinlan, N Torrans, J Douglas, J McGrane, N Walsh) NUIG 1 (S Minihan); Lurgan 1 (J Morrow) Trinity 1 (A Long)
Pool B: UCC v Ards; Greenfields v Monkstown – both postponed due to Storm Dennis
Next week’s fixtures – Saturday, February 22: Catholic Institute v Pegasus, Rosbrien, 1pm; Cork Harlequins v Belfast Harlequins, Farmers’ Cross, 1.05pm; Old Alex v Muckross, Milltown, 1.30pm; Pembroke v Railway Union, Serpentine Avenue, 2.30pm; UCD v Loreto, Belfield, 2.50pm