Railway Union continue to set the pace in the EY Hockey League, making it three wins from three. Railway ground out the points with a 1-0 win against the reigning champions Pegasus at Park Avenue.
With that win, Railway have now racked up as many wins they managed in the whole of last season. Once again, Kate Lloyd produced the goods as she scored the only goal of the game assisted by Ailish Long’s baseline pull-back early in the second half.
Limerick’s Catholic Institute are the other in-form side and they recorded their biggest since March 2019, beating Muckross 5-1 at Rosbrien.
Naomi Carroll and Louise McCollum traded goals before Roisin Upton nailed a pair of set pieces while Rosie Pratt and Aoife Hickey put Insta on course for seven points out of nine and moved up to second place in the standings.
The game of the weekend saw Old Alex lose their perfect record to Dublin rivals Loreto. The Beaufort club secured a thrilling 4-3 win and were good value for the result as they swept into a 4-1 lead. Defenders Hannah Matthews and Grace McLoughlin combined for their first three goals while Grace Donald got the all-important fourth.
It looked like a comeback was on the cards as Old Alex fought back brilliantly with Nikki Evans and Deirdre Duke among the goals, but Loreto held on for their second win of the season.
Pembroke secured their first points of the campaign with an impressive 3-0 win at UCD with Sophie Dix and Emily Beatty putting them 2-0 up at half-time before Tori Wensley added a third in the second-half.
Cork Harlequins did not travel to play Belfast Harlequins over Covid concerns in the weekend’s other tie on the schedule.
Railway Union 1 (K Lloyd) Pegasus 0
Kate Lloyd struck her third goal of the season to keep Railway Union’s excellent start to the season, meaning they now have as many weeks after three of this season as they did from the entirety of last term.
They shaded the first quarter in terms of possession and had the only corner saved by Megan Todd with chances at a premium. Sarah Hawkshaw almost unlocked the door for Lloyd and Martha McCready but their shots just went off course before Grace O’Flanagan – back into the side for this tie – was called on to make a couple of saves on the half-time hooter, notably from Shirley McCay at full stretch.
The goal came early in the second half with Ailish Long making a great dart to the back line and she found Lloyd waiting in the middle to push in.
Pegasus upped the ante with Emma Quinn drawing the best from O’Flanagan while Olivia Berry won a corner which McCay again fired in dangerously but was repelled. The pressure was relentless in the final quarter but Pegasus could not find a way through and so they ended their second successive trip to Dublin without a result as Railway march on.
Catholic Institute 5 (R Upton 2, A Hickey, R Pratt, N Carroll) Muckross 1 (L McCollum)
Catholic Institute recorded their largest winning score line in the women’s EY Hockey League in over 18 months to move into second place in the competition with seven points from nine thus far. It took them seven minutes to get off the mark with a long corner move worked into Naomi Carroll who turned and fired home from mid-circle.
Muckross got back on terms in the 21st minute when Emma Mathews’ sumptuous pass found Louise McCollum rushing on at pace and she entered the circle before finishing off a great goal. Roisin Upton made sure parity was short lived with a powerful hit from the top of the circle and then Rosie Pratt struck for 3-1 from the second phase of a corner on her backhand.
It was 4-1 eight minutes into the second half when Aoife Hickey finished off an overload down the right wing with Roisin Begley to the fore in its conception. Upton dragged in the fifth goal as the Limerick side continue their excellent start to the campaign.
UCD 0 Pembroke 3 (S Dix, E Beatty, T Wensley)
Pembroke produced an all-action performance to get their first win of the season as UCD’s tough start continues following a 3-0 home defeat. The visitors were good value for the result as they controlled long periods of the first half and should have been in front when Aisling Naughton drove through and slipped the ball past goalkeeper Clodagh Cassin to Ava Beatty but she could only slam the ball onto the post with her shot.
It was 1-0 when Gillian Pinder’s pin-point cross from the left baseline was met first time by Sophie Dix arriving at pace and it was another powerful ball into the mix that created goal number two. This time, Leah McGuire strode forward from the back and bashed into the circle where Emily Beatty met the ball perfectly for 2-0.
Pembroke had a couple more corner chances – one which was initially awarded as a stroke before being down-graded – but they had to wait until the second half for their third goal. Pinder’s first-up shot was well blocked by Cassin but Tori Wensley was there to poke home the rebound.
UCD improved after that but never looked like threatening a comeback with Emma Buckley very assured between the posts while Hannah McLoughlin’s pair of corner sweeps were both dealt with well.
Old Alex 3 (N Evans 2, D Duke) Loreto 4 (H Matthews 2, G McLoughlin, G Donald)
Defenders Hannah Matthews and Grace McLoughlin provided the set piece goals that laid the base for Loreto’s second win of the season against title hopefuls Old Alex. They built a healthy lead and looked in good shape until Alex stormed back in the last quarter but too late to take anything from the tie.
The Beaufort peppered the Alex goal in the first quarter with Carolyn Crampton making a string of saves while they also had a goal disallowed in favour of a corner before taking the lead with Matthews on the left behind-the-back switch to sweep in.
They looked more likely to score again but were undone by some quick-thinking by Jeamie Deacon whose free was perfectly worked to Nikki Evans on the right post to deflect in, 1-1.
But Matthews soon had Loreto back in front with a carbon-copy corner routine, a step-over switch and a powerful slap-shot. And while their numerous shots from play were repelled by Crampton, Loreto kept running up the corners to move 3-1 up in the second half with Grace McLoughlin this time going direct.
Grace Donald extended the lead to 4-1 when she finished off from open play following a swift attack down the right wing.
Alex got one back when Deirdre Duke brilliantly took down an overhead and rode a hefty tackle before driving on a smacking into the bottom corner. A volley of four corners for Alex were snuffed out but they got further back into the tie when Duke drove on again and while her shot was blocked, Evans snapped up the rebound with two minutes to go.