The EY Women’s Hockey League got off to a blistering start as Catholic Institute and Railway Union produced two sensational performances to upset the favourites. The underdogs beat sides who both were well placed in the top four last year before lockdown put an end to the season.
For Catholic Institute, their 2-0 win over UCD at Rosbrien was a first in a very long time. Two well worked goals in the final 12-minutes of play saw them secure victory. Aoife Hickey got the first following Ciara Moloney’s excellent break from left back opened the door for a nice spin and shot; Laura Foley then closed out the win after a smart give-and-go move down the right channel.
Railway Union were in the relegation play-off place before last season was halted with Loreto top of the table. Form and previous results went out the window as they new season got underway as they Sandymount side won 2-1 at Beaufort, with Kate Lloyd getting both her side’s goals.
Ireland’s Sarah Hawkshaw was the creator both times, the first from a driving run through the middle, teeing up Lloyd to take it on her preferred backhand side. The other was a great pick-up on the baseline, giving Lloyd the chance to slap in first time. Hannah Matthews got a late one back from a penalty corner.
Old Alexandra got an almighty scare at Belfast Harlequins but ultimately held on for a 3-2 win at Deramore Park. Aine Connery and Sarah Robinson made it 2-0 at half-time before Nikki Evans stretched the lead to three. Natalie Barr and Julie Allison, however, set nerves jangling with a couple of goals to cut the gap significantly.
Pegasus bounced back from their Irish Senior Cup final loss last weekend with a stylish 2-0 win over Pembroke. Youngsters Niamh McIvor and Olivia Berry put them two to the good by half-time and that is how it stayed.
Cork Harlequins’s trip to Muckross was called off after the Cork side opted against making the trip to the Irish capital due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.
Loreto 1 (H Matthews) Railway Union 2 (K Lloyd 2)
Kate Lloyd’s double saw Railway Union stun Loreto as they raided Beaufort to win 2-1. Before lockdown, Railway sat in the relegation playoff place while Loreto were on top of the table but the Sandymount side appear refreshed with a new coach and some new players helping them get off to a flying start.
Railway started with intent, winning a corner and then seeing a Sarah Hawkshaw skip across goal just beyond Kate McKenna; Hawkshaw was also set through after a Loreto corner mishap but struck wide.
Loreto had two big chances, too, but they fell behind when Hawkshaw burst forward from midfield and delivered the ball to Lloyd in the circle. She switched to her preferred backhand side and rocketed in the first goal.
Ali Meeke’s sharp volley from a Siofra O’Brien snap-shot looped just over, keeping it at 1-0 at the break. Railway moved further in front in the third quarter with Hawkshaw again the instigator with a great pick-up to a bouncing ball on the baseline and she fed Lloyd to slap in at the near post.
Railway’s defence was solid and unyielding for much of the second half but Loreto did make for a spicy finish when a corner switch fell to Hannah Matthews who swept in from the left-top of the D. They tried the same corner again in the last three minutes but it only found a foot this time and the follow-up corner was crowded out and cleared.
Belfast Harlequins 2 (N Barr, J Dennison) Old Alexandra 3 (A Connery, S Robinson, N Evans)
Old Alex were given a huge scare by Belfast Harlequins but ultimately got all three points from their trip to Deramore Park, winning 3-2. It was the Dubliners’ more clinical touch in front of goal that proved decisive as it was their hosts who had the bulk of the chances in an entertaining contest.
The Belfast side had four decent opportunities to score through Jenna Watt (twice) Emma Uprichard and Julie Dennison in the opening 10 minutes.
But Alex punished their wastefulness six minutes into the second quarter when Aine Connery met a right wing cross and her first time shot trickled over the line after striking both posts.
The Leinster side doubled their lead from the penalty spot through Sarah Robinson on the stroke of half-time. And it was three in the second half when Nikki Evans finished off an incisive counter-attack in which fellow international Deirdre Duke had been instrumental.
Natalie Barr pulled one back from a narrow angle in the 47th minute and 10 minutes later Dennison reduced the deficit to 3-2 with a carbon copy.
Quins pummelled the Alex circle in the dying minutes but were unable to find the equaliser their spirited display perhaps merited.
Quins coach Phil Mills said: “I thought we played very well against an Alex side that will do well this season in my view but, unfortunately, we just couldn’t make the most of our chances.”
“But we will take a lot of positives out of the game and look forward to playing UCD in Dublin on Saturday.”
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🔴⚪ The day is finally here…. First league games of the season! The much anticipated EYHL gets underway, details of the season ahead can be found in the link below. http://www.hookhockey.com/index.php/2020/09/42206/ Saturday 26th September: 👉 1sts v Belfast Harlequins 2.15pm (Away) 👉 2nds v Monkstown 12pm (Away) Good luck to both teams this weekend, play well and enjoy it! #AlwaysAlex #EYHL #DNG #letsgo 🔴⚪
Catholic Institute 2 (A Hickey, L Foley) UCD 0
Aoife Hickey and Laura Foley netted a goal each in the closing 12 minutes to earn Catholic Institute a huge win over UCD to start their season in cracking fashion against the recently crowned Irish Senior Cup winners.
“Really pleased to get three points against a fit talented young team,” said coach Dave Passmore. “While UCD created more of the chances in the third period, our increased depth and improved fitness stood to us and we managed the game well in the closing phases which was something we struggled with in the early stages last season.”
Passmore was able to hand club debuts to ex-international goalkeeper Pam Smithwick and American duo Allison Smith and Kelsey Farkas and they had the edge in the early stages before UCD came into a bit more. They handed debuts to Eva Lavelle, Sophia Cole and Rachel Kelly and they began to get a greater hold on the tie with Michelle Carey and Hannah McLoughlin winning corners but to no avail.
The breakthrough came when Ciara Moloney surged forward from left back and fed into the centre of the D; Aoife Hickey’s clever run and first touch took her into space on the right and she struck with her second touch for 1-0.
And, in the final minutes, they clinched the game following some excellent approach work with Laura Foley’s give and go offering her the chance to slot home.
Catholic Institute and Railway Union produced a couple of sensational performances to land wins over sides who were in the top four of the women’s #EYHL before it succumbed to lockdown last term.— The Hook (@hookhockey) September 27, 2020
Reports, reaction and video clips from Saturday:https://t.co/ixRgfIiPYF pic.twitter.com/Ph1rBPKeCz
Pegasus 2 (N McIvor, O Berry) Pembroke 0
Youngsters Niamh McIvor and Olivia Berry struck the Pegasus goals as they put last week’s Irish Senior Cup final defeat behind them to start the EY Hockey League campaign on a winning note.
They controlled the pace of the game and, from their first short corner, converted a Shirley McCay strike with a deflection from Niamh McIvor, 1-0 after five minutes. Berry got the second in the second quarter following another sweet move in which Lucy McKee passed to McIvor down the right side and she crossed immediately for Berry to score on the volley.
The second half saw plenty of circle entries and a number of short corners but without conversion. Pembroke chased the game and worked hard until the end but it was Pegasus who secured the three points.
EYHL Division 2 round-up
Ards made a big statement on the opening day of EYHL Division 2 when they got the better of Corinthian 3-0. The reds had won all seven of their games before last season was called to a halt but they have started this season on the back foot.
Zara Malseed gave the Ulster side the lead in the eighth minute and they held that through to half-time with Naomi McKnight making some key saves. Katie McKenna’s goal five minutes into the second half was a key one and Ards were out of sight when Amy Benson scored from a penalty corner soon after.
In Pool B, Queen’s left it late before accounting for NUIG 3-1. Maebh Corcoran had the Galway side 1-0 up at half-time and it was all to play for at the three-quarter time break after Jessica McMaster levelled things up. Rebecca Quinn and Alyssa Jebb completed the comeback in the closing minutes.