Railway Union and Old Alex moved to the top of the EY Hockey League after narrow wins saw them make it two wins from two games.
For Old Alex, they impressed with a 2-1 win against Pembroke thanks to goals from Emma Russell and Emilie Ryan Doyle. Ryan Doyle scored what was the winner with six minutes to go before Sally Campbell got a consolation goal in the dying minutes.
For Railway, they had to show character and resolve as they came back from a goal down to beat Muckross 2-1. A first half goal from Sarah McAuley gave Muckross the lead at half-time but Sarah Hawkshaw, who scored in the last round of fixtures, continued her immaculate form as she found the net again. Hawkshaw scored the equaliser from a Martha McCready cross and followed this up with an assist as she set up Zara Delany for the winner.
Loreto who were defeated by Railway last weekend, got back to winning ways as they beat Pegasus 2-1. Loreto Beaufort’s penalty corner efficiency was the key to victory as their clever moves lead to first half goals from Sarah Torrans and Siofra O’Brien. Ruth Maguire got one back for Pegasus in the form of a penalty stroke with 14 minutes to go but they could not find an equaliser.
Julia McCarthy’s debut goal for Cork Harlequins with five minutes left earned them a 1-1 draw against Catholic Institute in the Munster derby. Insta had led via Naomi Carroll’s goal in the first half but they were denied a second successive win by that late goal.
UCD and Belfast Harlequins also drew 1-1, Rachel Kelly getting her first goal since joining UCD during the summer to cancel out Emma Uprichard’s strike for the Belfast side.
Loreto 2 (S Torrans, S O’Brien) Pegasus 1 (R Maguire)
Loreto’s penalty corner variations proved critical in their victory over Pegasus to get their first win of the competition, bouncing back from their opening day defeat to Railway Union at Beaufort.
In an evenly contested battle, with defences largely on top, the set pieces were vital. Niamh McIvor’s powerful shot earned a corner for Pegasus early on but Loreto swarmed well to shut out Kerri McDonald’s angled effort. In reply, the Dubliners went in front from their second corner, switching right to Lisa Mulcahy who swept to the right post where Sarah Torrans was waiting to guide home.
The next variation saw Hannah Matthews pick out Siofra O’Brien at the injector spot and she comfortably slotted home. Their captain Sarah Evans had to be carried off injured before half-time but they did look more likely to extend their lead with Yasmin Pratt cracking an effort into Megan Todd’s chest protection while Ali Meeke was also blocked by a combination of Todd and Shirley McCay’s instincts to cover.
Pegs began to have more and more of the game as time wore on and they ramped up the tension when Ruth Maguire converted a penalty stroke with 14 minutes still to play. Try as they might, though, Loreto’s defence held up for what could be an important win over the perennial title rivals.
Pembroke 1 (S Campbell) Old Alex 2 (E Russell, E Ryan Doyle)
Old Alex made it two away wins from two to share the lead at this early stage of the campaign with goals from Emma Russell and Emilie Ryan Doyle putting them ahead of Pembroke at Serpentine Avenue.
Nikki Evans almost drew first blood but her reverse was denied by international team mate Emma Buckley in the early exchanges while Buckley was also there to save a corner soon after. Another Alex effort then pinged the crossbar as the visitors enjoyed the best of the early exchanges.
Pembroke replied in kind with a couple of corners in the second quarter but they could not make them count and so the half ended scoreless. The deadlock was broken, though, early in the second half when Russell latched onto a rebound early in the second half to add extra bite to the contest.
Gillian Pinder drew a fine save from Carolyn Crampton to close out the third quarter as Pembroke pushed forward with gusto but found an unyielding defence in front of them. Emily Beatty was also kept out by Crampton before Alex made the key incision from a corner, Millie O’Donnell picking out Emilie Ryan Doyle who deflected in.
That came with just six minutes to go; Pembroke pulled one back within 60 seconds courtesy of some fine stickwork from Sally Campbell and the hosts withdrew their goalkeeper for the final two minutes but Alex held on.
Cork Harlequins 1 (J McCarthy) Catholic Institute 1 (N Carroll)
Julia McCarthy’s debut goal gave Cork Harlequins a point from their opening tie of the women’s EY Hockey League season from a high tempo Munster derby.
The Farmers’ Cross side did owe a lot to their fantastic goalkeeper Lorna Bateman who made several crucial saves but coach Darren Collins was left reasonably satisfied with the outcome after a summer in which the club saw a big turnover in personnel.
“We went into yesterday a bit concerned as we hadn’t been able to get enough practice matches beforehand,” he said after the tie. “With eight out of a squad of 14 Under-18, having such a young team will take time to get used to the pace of EYHL hockey.
“Institute had more chances than us and probably were unlucky not to take a few but I was delighted with the way our team fought back to level the match.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Insta went in front before half-time straight from a Quins’ penalty corner, Aoife Hickey and Roise Pratt working the ball up the pitch to Naomi Carroll to finish off.
From there, Bateman played a key role in keeping the gap at one goal while there were strong performances from Lauren Cripps, Cliodhna Sargent, Yvonne O’Byrne and Michelle Barry.
They held on long enough and McCarthy took their chance when it arrived inside the last five minutes. There was still time for Bateman to make yet another key block to retain the point.
Muckross 1 (S McAuley) Railway Union 2 (S Hawkshaw, Z Delany)
Railway came back from a goal down to record their second 2-1 win of the season with Sarah Hawkshaw playing a crucial role once again. She has either assisted or scored each of their goals this season in a hugely impressive start to the campaign.
In an end-to-end first half, the first quarter saw an exchange of corners but no goals. Muckross, though, took the lead in the second quarter when Anna O’Flanagan drew a penalty corner which Sarah McAuley swept in from the top.
Railway got back on terms when Sarah Patton overlapped down the right and slipped a pass to Martha McCready who in turn picked out Hawkshaw who peeled around to the back post to tip in.
Hawkshaw then turned over the ball and won a free which she took on herself, racing down the right and into the D before laying on for Zara Delany to sweep in first time with about 12 minutes to go.
UCD 1 (R Kelly) Belfast Harlequins 1 (E Uprichard)
UCD and Belfast Harlequins picked up their first point each of the season from a hard-fought contest at Belfield. Quins looked the more on form side in the first quarter KJ Marshall needing to be alert to deny Jenna Watt while Clodagh Cassin was the first goalkeeper called into action.
They took the lead in the second quarter via Ulster underage interpro player Emma Uprichard for an important lead. The students grew into the contest with the pick of their play featuring Katherine Egan’s lovely cross-field pass to Sarah Young which ended up in a corner and an Egan shot that was repelled.
The Belfast side – who were without injured international trio Megan Frazer, Lizzie Colvin and Serena Barr – had a couple of big corner chances to extend their lead in the second half. But UCD forced their way back into the reckoning with a dominant final quarter with the goal eventually arriving from Rachel Kelly in her college debut from a penalty corner won by Emma Young.
Three more corners went the students way but they could not get by Suzanne Taylor from those chances and Harlequins held on for a point.