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Insta hit Railway for six in women’s EYHL

Women’s EY Hockey League

Catholic Institute 6 (H Kelly 2, N Carroll, R Upton, C Moloney, L Hickey) Railway Union 1 (L Lloyd)

Catholic Institute hit Railway Union for six as they produced a remarkably clinical performance to jump up to second place in the women’s EY Hockey League.

It was a performance of attacking precision as they built a 3-0 lead in the first three quarters despite Railway having plenty of the game before the Limerick side cut loose in the closing quarter.

The visitors were without Orla Fox while Grace O’Flanagan for her first game of the season with Riona Norton out injured. They had a couple of early corners – they ended up with eight in total to Insta’s two – but Pam Smithwick and her defensive team were well organised.

And the hosts took the lead from their first major attack with Laura Foley drawing two good saves from O’Flanagan only for Naomi Carroll to clean up and fire home.

In the second quarter, Aebhfhinn Bourke laid on the cross for Hannah Kelly to guide home after a couple of waves of attacks. Railway felt they were still very much in it as Kate Lloyd’s cross somehow did not find the touch as it rolled across goal.

Almost instantly, Insta countered with Róisín Upton – imperious stepping out from midfield – drove to the baseline, won a corner and dragged it home herself. Again, Railway were frustrated as Sarah Hawkshaw’s snapshot hit the base of the post as the Dubliners peppered the Insta circle but found no joy.

They scored their second corner despite a mistral, Upton gathering to find space to put the ball into the dangerzone and Ciara Moloney got the touch into the backboard.

Christine O’Shea’s gutsy tackle from another Railway corner set the base for number five. Upton duly smacked the ball 70-metres to Carroll who was in behind the last defender and she selflessly squared to Kelly for her second of the day. 

Sarah Patton denied Jenny Clein off the line before number six came, Carroll again with some sublime skills before she unselfishly squared to Aoife Hickey. Lily Lloyd flicked into the top corner in the last minute of the game but it was scant consolation.

It is the sole match to be played in January with the next round of matches being played on February 11.


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Insta and Railway vye for second as interpros reach business end

A number of high quality fixtures are on the agenda this weekend with the women’s EY Hockey League tie between Catholic Institute and Railway Union takes place on Saturday while Sunday sees five female interprovincial fixtures.

Indeed, in the interpro series, the first final of the season will take place at Grange Road with Leinster facing Connacht at 3pm. The two sides played out a close-run meeting in October with the blues prevailing 2-0 while both sides subsequently picked up 1-0 wins over Munster.

At Under-18 level, Ulster can potentially confirm they will join Munster in that competition’s final if the northern province can get by the challenge of Leinster at Havelock Park.

Leinster South will hope to keep their outside chances of nicking a final berth alive when they meet in Mullingar where they meet Connacht who are aiming for their second win of the campaign.

In the Under-16s, it is very much all to play for with four provinces currently covered by three points with two rounds of matches to be played. The match-ups are the same and should Leinster win against Ulster, they will be assured of a final spot but Ulster, Munster and Leinster South are all very much in the hunt.

In the EYHL, Catholic Institute and Railway Union can both potentially move into second place in the women’s table on Saturday at Rosbrien.

It is a position Insta’s Róisín Upton sometimes has to pinch herself to confirm is real as the Limerick club has leaped forward in recent years.

“As the weeks go on, you just want to shake some of the girls!” she said in a recent media outing in her role as a GOAL ambassador.

“I hope some of them realise just how good they are and how good they can be. That’s one of the most exciting things; how keen the girls are to learn and how hungry they are for success.

“Success for us is being in the EYHL Division One, it’s finishing higher than our seventh place from a few years ago. It’s small steps and there is a great buzz.
“Our goal is just to finish higher than we did two years ago. It would be great to get into the playoffs and we also have our first ever Irish Senior Cup quarter-final to look forward to up in Banbridge.”

For Railway, they are in sixth place on 15 points but just three points off second placed Pegasus and Old Alex, tied on 18. That second spot is all-important as it would assure progression straight through to the EY Champions Trophy semi-finals with third to sixth destined to the quarter-finals.

Saturday 15th January 2022
EYHL Division 1:
Catholic Institute v Railway Union, Rosbrien, 2pm

Sunday 16th January 2022
Interprovincial series
Leinster South v Connacht, Mullingar, 1pm; Ulster v Leinster, Havelock Park, 12pm
Under-18: Leinster South v Connacht, Mullingar, 3pm; Ulster v Leinster, Havelock Park, 2.30pm
Under-21 final: Leinster v Connacht, Grange Road, 3pm

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Muckross land big three points before Christmas

Women’s EY Hockey League
Cork Harlequins 0 Muckross 3 (J O’Brien, S McFarland, R McMullen)

Muckross landed a big win to boost their hopes of getting out of the women’s EY Hockey League relegation places in the new year as they saw off Cork Harlequins 3-0 at Farmers’ Cross on Saturday.

The result leaves them two points off eighth place Belfast Harlequins with Cork now five points off safety with eight fixtures to be played in 2022.

In the driving wind and rain, the Dubliners got off to a perfect start when Emma Mathews nicked possession on the Quins’ 23 and fired the perfect pass to Jane O’Brien in the danger zone and she calmly slotted in a second minute opening goal.

Muckross thought they had a second when Laura Hanlon volleyed in from close range but a corner for an earlier infringement was called instead. No matter, Julia Balcerzak’s hit was never fully cleared and Sarah McFarland scooped in her side’s second from the third rebound for 2-0.

The hosts’ main chances in the first half came from a couple of corners while goalkeeper Katie O’Donnell was alert to block both Beatrice O’Hare and Rachel O’Shea. For the most part, Muckross held sway in that first half and they built on that advantage in the 38th minute when Rebecca McMullen scored an excellent individual effort.

She dribbled right to draw in a couple of tacklers before turning behind her back, broke a tackle and then slipped in for 3-0.

From there, Harlequins threw everything forward but could not get on the scoreboard. Cliodhna Sargent’s cross from the left got no attacking touch before ending in the goal while Katie Moore and Michelle Barry both tested O’Donnell with strikes from the edge.

On the counter, Katie Fitzgerald was denied by Lorna Bateman while the home goalkeeper did well to hold up Kim Baker when through one-on-one. No further goals, though, meant Muckross had a vital win and a strong outlook for what they can do in 2022.


Comebacks galore for Garvey, Bann and YM as TRR go back to top

Men’s EY Hockey League – day 10 round-up
Lisnagarvey 3 (B Nelson, P McKibbin, J Lorimer) Glenanne 2 (C Kennedy, G Gibney)

Lisnagarvey got back to winning ways at Comber Road after their draw with Banbridge a week earlier as a two-goal second half salvo earned them a narrow win over Glenanne.

Garvey twice had to come from behind to seal a hard-fought victory which saw them go into the EYHL’s winter break in second place in the standings.

The Hillsborough side trail leaders Three Rock Rovers by a single point after the latter’s win over basement side UCD.

In a ding-dong battle Glenanne matched Garvey in every sector with both goalkeepers excelling with some outstanding saves and even the most fervent home fans would admit the Dublin side deserved something from the game.

James Milliken won his personal battle with Ireland’s all-time leading scorer Shane O’Donoghue, keeping the Glens’ hotshot scoreless after he had hit a hat-trick in last weekend’s win over Annadale.

As early as the second minute, Milliken came to the rescue when he denied O’Donoghue from a penalty corner.

At the other end, David Lawless brilliantly kept out Andy Edgar’s effort from a set-piece in the 17th minute. Glenanne broke away immediately after a clearance off Lawless’s pads and Clive Kennedy gave them the lead from a rebound after Milliken had saved from Adam Clayton.

Two minutes later, Garvey levelled when James Lorimer rifled in a corner after playing a neat one-two with the visitors’ defence perhaps expecting a straight shot.

In the 23rd minute, Glenanne went ahead again when Gavin Gibney scored a fine opportunist effort, knocking in a left-wing cross from an acute angle.

Garvey then hit a purple patch, Peter McKibbin netting from the penalty spot in the 50th minute after ‘feet’ on the line after Matthew Nelson had won the award.

Barely 60 seconds later, Ben Nelson grabbed the winner from close range, denying the Glens the point they deserved on the balance of play after a pulsating contest which was a credit to both teams.

Banbridge 3 (C Curry, O Magee, J McKee) Monkstown 2 (D Carson, J Duncan)
Banbridge nabbed a last-minute winner to jump into the top four for the first time this season as Jonny McKee finished off an outstanding move to complete a famous comeback against Monkstown.

Town had looked in great shape as Davy Carson finished past Luke Roleston low to the goalkeeper’s left in the opening phases. And they were two to the good in the second quarter when Jeremy Duncan’s deflected shot found its way in and they held that advantage until deep into the third quarter.

Bann got their foothold in the tie when McKee stole possession and fed Chris Curry who finished off. They still trailed going into the last six minutes of the contest but Owen Magee struck the sweetest of reverse-stick finishes to tie things up and they won it with one of the last plays of the game.

It was brilliantly created, a high interception from Charlie Rowe to set the move going at full tilt, working it down the right wing where it was returned to the middle for McKee to finish off.

Pembroke 2 (C Hynes, J Dale) YMCA 3 (A Walker, S Hyland, R Henderson)
YMCA produced a brilliant second half comeback to leap into the top six playoff positions at the expense of Pembroke who would have done likewise had they held on to an earlier 2-0 advantage. As it is, the Dublin 4 side remain in the relegation zone on goal difference behind Corinthian who have a game in hand against Annadale in January.

The hosts looked good when Cillian Hynes got the only goal of the first half and Julian Dale extended the gap from a penalty corner in the third quarter.

But Adam Walker’s set-piece finish put YM back in the hunt and it was level at 2-2 a couple of minutes into the closing quarter with Sam Hyland on the mark. Ross Henderson got a hat trick against Pembroke on the opening day of the season and he was their tormentor once more, getting the last minute winner for the Y, making it two wins on the spin for them going into Christmas.

Three Rock Rovers 6 (R Canning 2, A Empey 2, E Jennings, A Keane) UCD 0
Three Rock Rovers returned to the top of the men’s EY Hockey League table for Christmas as five second half goals saw them ease by the challenge of UCD.

The students – powered by the excellent Kevin O’Dea and Sam Walker – made life difficult for Rovers in the first half at Grange Road but the hosts did go ahead when Ali Empey’s cross got a beautiful touch at the near post from Evan Jennings into the roof of the net.

Into the second half, the lead was doubled when Ross Canning was put through one on one and he calmly slotted home. Empey got his first of the day when he go to the left baseline, protected the ball well before dodging back and slipping into the goal. The forward was tripped for a stroke which Canning converted for 4-0 in the fourth quarter.

Andy Keane deflected in a penalty corner move for another one and Empey rounded out the win with his second goal, an absolute rocket hit from the right edge of the circle.

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Men’s EYHL set for final pre-Christmas twist

The men’s EY Hockey League is set for its last pre-Christmas twist with four of the top five meeting each other on week ten of the competition.

Third hosts first as Lisnagarvey welcome Glenanne to Comber Road with the latter returning to the top last weekend courtesy of Shane O’Donoghue’s 15th goal of the campaign on the buzzer against Annadale. Remarkably, he has scored their last five goals across league and Irish Senior Cup.

Garvey left St Andrew’s empty-handed on the opening day of the season as David Lawless produced a fine debut between the posts and they had a goal ruled out. The Glens used that result to kickstart a run of five successive wins and while they had a stumble, they have ground out three wins in succession by a single goal.

The Ulster side, meanwhile, took out their scoring touch on Newry in midweek in the Kirk Cup with hat tricks for Ben Nelson and Troy Chambers in an 11-0 success. Ollie Kidd is in Portugal for the U-21 Euro indoors.

Banbridge host Monkstown in a contest between fifth and fourth. Louis and Charlie Rowe both picked up the McCullough Cup this week with Banbridge Academy to add to their impressive seasons to date with their club on a good run of 10 points from the last 12 on offer.

On day one, Town grabbed a late equaliser through Geoff Cole’s cracking goal to make it 1-1. The south Dublin side have only lost once this season on the national stage but four draws has kept them just off the top three thus far.

At Serpentine Avenue, Pembroke meet YMCA having won two of their last three games. While the Dublin 4 side remain in the relegation zone on goal difference, they are back in the frame and a win here would lift them level on points with sixth-placed Annadale. Player-coach Alan Sothern is still under assessment over an injury which will keep him out of this one.

YM won the first meeting 5-3 as they regularly found the highest forward in behind the back; they had to wait until last weekend for the second win of the campaign. Ross Henderson was a key influence that day and he returned last week after a month out. The Y will be without Harry McCarthy and Ben O’Grady on Irish Under-21 indoor duty.

Three Rock Rovers meet UCD for a third time this season in a meeting between the top scorers and the highest conceders with the former scoring 13 times in the previous two ties across the Mills Cup and EYHL. They will, however, be without the emerging Ben Ryder while Mark Samuel and Ben Johnson are injury concerns.

Annadale’s match against Corinthian has been pushed back to late January.

There is also a series of Irish Hockey Challenge fixtures with Galway hosting Limerick in Group 1, Midleton face Naas and Waterford against Wicklow in Group 2 and Saintfield playing Armagh in Group 3.

On the women’s side, Cork Harlequins and Muckross face off in the one EYHL game on the agenda, a huge battle with both sides needing to get their first win on the board if they are to have a chance at bridging the gap to the safety of eighth place.

Harlequins welcomed back Cliodhna Sargent for their tie against Pembroke to the fold last Saturday and she brings a wealth of experience to their young side.

The two sides drew on day one of the season with both sides scoring near identical goals from penalty corners from the injection area, Michelle Barry and Laura Hanlon hitting the net.

Since then, Muckross have had the tighter defence but both sides have found the going tough in front of goal, scoring five goals between them since that contest.

It is the last 16 phase of the women’s Irish Hockey Challenge from nine different counties aiming to make it through to the final eight line-up.

Saturday 11th December 2021
EYHL Division 1:
Banbridge v Monkstown, Havelock Park, 4pm; Lisnagarvey v Glenanne, Comber Road, 2.30pm; Pembroke v YMCA, Serpentine Avenue, 4pm; Three Rock Rovers v UCD, Grange Road, 1pm

Irish Hockey Challenge
Group 1:
Galway v Limerick, Dangan Sports Ground
Group 2: Midleton v Naas, Midleton College, 3.30pm; Waterford v Wicklow, Newtown, 2pm
Group 3: Saintfield v Armagh, Saintfield Cricket Club, 2.30pm

EYHL Division 1:
Cork Harlequins v Muckross, Farmers’ Cross, 12.45pm

Irish Hockey Challenge – Round 2: Athlone v Weston, Athlone RC, 1pm; Blackrock v Wicklow, Blackrock 2.30pm; Clonakilty v Gorey, Clonakilty, 2.30pm; Enniscorthy v Cork Wanderers, Astro Active, 12.30pm; Greenfields 2 v Bangor, Dangan, 2.15pm; NICS v Mullingar, Stormont, 1pm; NUIG v Portrane, Dangan; Wexford v Kilkenny, Loreto Wexford, 2pm

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C of I fightback as Cookstown and Bandon keep perfect records

Men’s EYHL Division Two round-up
Cork C of I came back from 2-0 in the closing quarter to land what could be a vital draw against Instonians in the hotly contested Pool A of the men’s EY Hockey League Division 2.

For a long time, they tailed to Ben Palmer’s second quarter drag-flick and they were in further trouble when the experienced Chris Kirk popped up with a second in the fourth quarter for a 2-0 Inst lead.

But Ian Balding and Jonny Bruton nabbed late goals to make it 2-2 and add it to their 5-0 opening day win over Rathgar to sit on seven points at the head of the group.

Inst are on seven as well with Railway Union one point worse off on six thanks to their 4-1 success against Rathgar at Park Avenue. All four goals came from the stick of Mark English, bringing his tally in all competitions so far this season to 39 goals.

Pool B is shaping up to be an incredibly tight one with Kilkeel entering the fray with a 0-0 draw against Cork Harlequins. Quins had drawn with Clontarf on the first day of this three-team pool to leave the win column blank for everyone so far.

The Mourne men survived a couple of early corners before going on to have a trio of their own before half-time, one of which hit the post. Into the second half, neither side were able to nail one of their set pieces and so the laurels were shared.

In Pool C, Bandon and Cookstown have two wins from two but both were pushed all the way by Mossley and Portrane, respectively.

In west Cork, Bandon eventually shook off the Newtownabbey side’s challenge 5-3. Captain Fionn O’Leary had them two to the good at half-time only for Simon Todd and Jordan Robinson to level the game by the end of Q3.

Ian Perrott added a pair for Bandon to keep their noses in front but a second from Todd kept the game up for grabs at 4-3 with time running out. Bandon, though, got the vital clinching goal from Ethan Hamilton Foott in the last three minutes to lift them to 10 points.

At Portrane, Ryan Millar got the only goal for Cookstown in the final throes of the third quarter for a 1-0 success for the Co Tyrone side. Portrane take a losing bonus point for their efforts.

Men’ s EYHL Division 2 results
Pool A:
Cork C of I 2 (I Balding, J Bruton) Instonians 2 (B Palmer, C Kirk); Railway Union 4 (M English 4) Rathgar 1 (S Madeley)
Pool B: Kilkeel 0 Cork Harlequins 0
Pool C: Bandon 5 (F O’Leary 2, I Perrott 2, E Hamilton-Foott) Mossley 3 (S Todd 2, J Robinson); Portrane 0 Cookstown 1 (R Millar)

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Glens back on top as O’Donoghue strikes at the last against Dale

Men’s EY Hockey League – day nine round-up
Three Rock Rovers 1 (R Canning) Monkstown 1 (G Sarratt)

For a third time this season, a Monkstown performance has knocked the current first placed side off top as they drew 1-1 with Three Rock Rovers at Grange Road.

It followed wins over Lisnagarvey and Glenanne and they were within a couple of minutes of repeating the trick only for Ross Canning’s corner deflection to level it in the 67th minute. On the flip side, James Walker almost won the day when he clipped the underside of the bar moments later but a draw was probably a fair result.

Both sides were understrength with Town missing David Nolan, Jazze Henry, Nick Dee and Andrew Fogarty for the tie while Ben Johnson was missing for Rovers with Ben Ryder and Mark Samuel not lasting the half due to injuries.

Rovers had the best of the first half hour with Dave Fitzgerald producing a fine performance, the pick of the early interventions a scramble away a chance from Evan Jennings who also shot inches wide.

Town survived 12 minutes of suspensions before returning to 11 players with devastating effect just before half-time with a pitch-length move, starting with a turnover in their own defensive left corner which was transferred out to Rory Nichols charging at pace. His cross found Guy Sarratt on the left of the D and he shot home.

The Rathdown club carried that upper hand into the third quarter with a couple of near misses from Sarratt and Jeremy Duncan. Rovers, though, threw everything forward in the last 10 minutes with Fitzgerald producing the pick of his saves from Ali Haughton before Canning equalised with a touch to Jody Hosking’s corner power-slap to share the spoils.

Monkstown’s Dave FItzgerald makes a key block. Pic: Adrian Boehm

UCD 2 (J Menelaou, S Byrne) Pembroke 3 (J Dale 2, G Chambers)
Pembroke picked up a vital 3-2 win over UCD in their tussle with UCD at the bottom of the table. They built a healthy 3-0 lead and while the Belfielders fought back with two goals in the last 10 minutes, the result gives Pembroke a six-point buffer between them and bottom place but they remain in the relegation places on goal difference.

The Ballsbridge club were in control in the first half with Matthew O’Brien Holohan needing to be sharp to deny Harry Spain’s drag-flick. The goalkeeper was unfortunate to be beaten from the third phase of one attack as he blocked Julian Dale’s deflection and a Cillian Hynes follow-up shot but Greg Chambers picked off the third attack.

Dale dragged in Pembroke’s third corner in the minutes before half-time for a deserved 2-0 lead. He drew a brilliant glove save from O’Brien Holohan who also denied Chambers a second with a low-down block.

The third came from a peach of a strike from Dale after Scott Sullivan’s show and go opened up the chance. UCD struggled to create much prior to that phase but they finished strong. Peter Lynch deflected a crash ball into the path of Jay Menelaou and the former Avoca man controlled it perfectly to evade the last defender and goalkeeper. Sam Byrne then batted in a corner rebound in the last minute but Pembroke had done enough and closed the gap significantly to the sides above them.

Annadale 2 (T Cross, A McAllister) Glenanne 3 (S O’Donoghue 3)
Shane O’Donoghue’s final second goal saw Glenanne return to the top of the table, completing his hat trick to make it 3-2 with the very last play of the contest.

Dale have proven a strong competitor this season and they had the half-time lead when Tim Cross banged in a straight hit from a penalty corner. O’Donoghue levelled from the penalty spot and his drag-flick made it 2-1 going into the final quarter.

Adam McAllister equalised with time running out but a last-ditch corner was nailed once more by O’Donoghue for a seventh win from the first half of the season.

Lisnagarvey 2 (B Nelson, O Kidd) Banbridge 2 (C Curry, L Rowe)
Lisnagarvey and Banbridge drew in a high octane, late afternoon tussle at Comber Road which sees Garvey drop to third place with Bann consolidate their fifth place a little bit more.

It was a tie brought forward by an hour to allow the game to go ahead as six Covid cases in the top umpire panel’s ranks along with an injury meant a number of hastily rearranged appointments. It is a testament to the ingenuity of the Irish Hockey Umpires Association to rejig their placments along with the agreement of the teams to allow the change at short notice to allow the game to go ahead.

On the field, Garvey went in front in the first quarter from the first clear-cut opportunity which fell the way of Ben Nelson. He spun well and found a perfect angle to shoot past Luke Roleston.

Banbridge, though, enjoyed a strong portion of the play of a tight first half to suggest they could cause problems after the break with Philip Brown a regular feature. Bann were level with six minutes remaining in the third quarter via Chris Curry and he went close to putting his side in front soon after.

The pendulum swung back the hosts way for a brief spell with Troy Chambers turning on the after-burners but Banbridge went in front on the counter as the action heated up, Louis Rowe scoring the breakaway goal.

Garvey pressed on and were back on terms at 2-2 with 10 minutes to go when Ollie Kidd fired across goal and his action took a defensive stick to rebound into the backboard. Daniel Nelson and Chambers went extremely close to winning it but they had to settle for a point which sees them drop two points behind new leaders Glenanne at the halfway stage.

YMCA 1 (G Glutz) Corinthian 0
YMCA picked up their first win since the opening day of the season as they won their derby date with Corinthian courtesy of Grant Glutz’s single goal. It lifts them to seventh place in the table and remain two points above the relegation places.

Early on, reds’ player-coach Peter Caruth went close to breaking the deadlock but his volley was sent over the clubhouse by goalkeeper Jakim Bernsden while his side also ran up a series of penalty corners but to no avail in the first half.

YM, meanwhile, started the second half on the up with Harry McCarthy setting up Glutz and he powered home an upright reverse-stick shot for what proved the only goal of the day.

Ross Henderson fizzed a reverse just over as the Y stepped things up significantly before Corinthian replied with a couple of big chances going incomplete. They won further corners in the closing quarter but they were repelled too and YM had a crucial three points to their name.

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Ards and Monkstown make big moves in women’s EYHL2

Ards saw off Trinity 4-0 in their final EYHL2 game of 2021 at Londonderry Park, making it 12 points from a possible 15 to head the Pool A table after week three of the competition. Frankie Brown opened the scoreline early on for Ards with youngster Erin McKinley making it 2-0 before the end of the first half.

Trinity looked stronger in the second half, finding some success with aerials from their defensive line and winning a series of short corners, but the Trinity strikers were unable to get anything past the Ards goalkeeper Naomi McKnight.

In the final quarter, after missing a stroke, Brown got her second of the game after showing off some nice 3D skills along the byline and managing to get the final touch on a rebound in front of goal.

The final Ards goal came from Ellen Robinson who deflected a shot from Ards midfielder Amy Benson, over the Trinity goalkeeper to make the score 4-0 in favour of the Oranges.

Elsewhere in the group, UCC landed an important 3-0 win over debutantes Galway in front of a healthy crowd at Dangan. Abi O’Mahony put the Cork side in front in the 20th minute from play before Emma O’Sullivan added another on the half-hour.

Caoimhe Perdue stretched out the lead to three to lift UCC to seven points and second spot going into the winter pause.

In Pool B, Monkstown are very much proving the team to beat as they came back from a goal down to beat Queen’s 4-1 at Rathdown with Anna O’Flanagan adding another double to her tally for the season with Emily Kealy in outstanding form.

After waves of Town attacks, they were caught cold when Alyssa Jebb intercepted a free in her own half and set Jessica McMaster off on a run. She fed the ball back to Jebb who had time to wind up a shot as the ball crossed the circle line and then smacked into the bottom corner.

Despite plenty of chaos in the Queen’s circle and a plethora of chances for Monkstown, it remained that way to half-time. Chloe Watkins then saw a corner chance tipped off the line while Rebecca Spence made an amazing block from Anna O’Flanagan.

Queen’s were denied a potential stroke for a back-stick at the far end and, within a minute, Town were level with an incredible goal when O’Flanagan put Emily Kealy through on the right. She flipped it onto her reverse and cracked home a tomahawk.

Claire O’Reilly batted in O’Flanagan’s looping shot for 2-1 as Monkstown finally made their pressure pay. Kealy had played an integreal role in that build-up and she did so again for 3-1 in the fourth quarter, dancing through a series of tackles before crossing for O’Flanagan a couple of feet out of goal to turn home.

O’Flanagan then poached another from close range as she showed the most determination to scramble home amid a pile-on on the Queen’s goal line. With five points for a win, the result has Monkstown 10 points clear of second placed Queen’s in the group.

Lurgan, meanwhile, are on two draws from two outings after they were held to a 0-0 draw by a stubborn NUIG who could not be broken down in the second half. It has them in third place on four points with Cork C of I and NUIG on two points.

Women’s EYHL Division 2
Pool 1:
Ards 4 (F Brown 2, E McKinley, E Robinson) Trinity 0; Galway 0 UCC 3 (A O’Mahony, E O’Sullivan, C Perdue)
Pool 2: Lurgan 0 NUIG 0; Monkstown 4 (A O’Flanagan 2, E Kealy, C O’Reilly) Queens University 1 (A Jebb)

Action from Galway versus UCC in the women’s EYHL2. Picture: Thomas Hughes

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Pembroke in seventh heaven as Belfast Quins land crucial victory

Women’s EY Hockey League round-up
Pembroke 7 (A Griffin 2, G Pinder, E Horan, R O’Brien, O Macken, C Moroney) Cork Harlequins 0

Pembroke will take a seven-point lead into the new year to put themselves very much in the driving seat for a maiden EY Hockey League title.

Gillian Pinder broke the deadlock in the 11th minute following a composed attack, Ellen Curran dodging into space and then picking a super pass to the high forward behind the last defender who a simple finish. Ciara Moroney made it 2-0 in the second quarter from Pinder’s assist, a smart backhand strike.

Cliodhna Sargent blocked a heavily deflected Orla Macken corner shot off the line but just before half-time, Ali Griffin thumped in from the right of the D from a long corner move.

Eanna Horan cracked in the fourth from a rebound in the third quarter and Rachel O’Brien got the next in the closing period from close range. Macken got her goal from Martha McCready’s cross following a smart run by O’Brien and the tally was complete when Griffin cleaned up a corner rebound.

Belfast Harlequins 2 Muckross 1
Belfast Harlequins edged clearer of the EYHYL relegation zone with this hard-fought win over fellow strugglers Muckross at a bitterly cold Deramore. The hosts were 2-0 up in the second half but the Dubliners set up a grandstand finish after pulling a goal back with 20 minutes to go.

The result ended a six-game losing streak for Quins and, more importantly, saw them open up a five-point gap over their opponents. The Ulster side have six points from 10 matches, Muckross have one as do basement side Cork Harlequins, with the bottom two having played a game less.

However, with several top-line players due to return after the Christmas break and that cushion, the south Belfast side will be confident of avoiding the drop. Irish international twins Beth and Serena Barr will be back in action after suffering cruciate ligament injuries while Julie Dennison is due to return after maternity leave.

In this season’s new signing, Jane Kirkpatrick, Harlequins have compensated for the loss of those key players and the newly-capped Irish international stole the show on Saturday.
Although a defender in name, the former Lisnagarvey and Ards player made a rich contribution all over the pitch.

She set up numerous attacks with her accurate passing causing Muckross problems at the back. Kirkpatrick had a shot blocked in the 25th minute which was the only real chance of a cagey first half.

Quins broke the deadlock three minutes after the break, Katherine Welshman firing home from a penalty corner. Five minutes later, it was 2-0, Jenna Watt scoring from a narrow angle after Kirkpatrick had seen her shot blocked.

In the 50th minute, Muckross pulled one back when Leila O’Byrne finished clinically from mid-circle. Play swung from end to end after that with Quins holding on for a crucial three points.

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Men’s EYHL reaches halfway stage with big encounters – weekend preview

The men’s EY Hockey league reaches the halfway stage this weekend with any one of Three Rock Rovers, Glenanne and Lisnagarvey in the mix to be Christmas number one while there is also a huge showdown at the bottom between UCD and Pembroke.

Rovers currently lead the way with 19 points but face Monkstown who have knocked both the Glens (1-0) and Garvey (4-3) off top spot in the past month with impressive wins in south Dublin.

The Grange Road side have been in flying form, scoring at least four goals in each of their last six games – and 30 times in the league in total – to show their attacking intent with Ali Empey, Evan Jennings and Ben Johnson filling their boots.

For Town, their strength has been in defence, conceding just 12 in eight games with Lee Cole marshalling the defence while goalkeeper Dave Fitzgerald’s return to action has been a big boon.

Taking a keen interest on those proceedings will be Lisnagarvey who play in the Ulster classico against Banbridge under Saturday night lights with a 6pm start at Comber Road as they anticipate a healthy crowd.

Garvey’s six game winning streak in the league came to an end last time out when they were undone by Monkstown 4-3 and they will be keen to get back on the horse.

Bann, for their part, are on a three-game streak of their own which has helped them rise to fifth place after a slow start.

Glenanne, meanwhile, have a tricky trip to Annadale who have been one of the break-out stars of the season to date, landing their first top flight wins for a number of years to look reasonably comfortable in mid-table and challenging for a playoff place.

The Glens are boosted by the return of Rowland Rixon-Fuller after eight weeks on the sidelines but Shannon Boucher has been missing in recent times. David Lawless has recorded back-to-back clean sheets with Shane O’Donoghue providing the winning goal in a pair of 1-0 wins.

At the bottom, meanwhile, tenth hosts ninth at Belfield with UCD up against Pembroke in a vital tie to their respective chances to avoid the automatic relegation place.

The students have just one point on the board and a loss would cut them at least five points adrift going into the winter break. Win, however, and they would draw level with Pembroke. Both sides have conceded 33 times this term, averaging over four per game.

Just above them, eighth placed YMCA are up against seventh ranked Corinthian with both sides needing to get a boost away from the relegation places. Neither side have won in the EYHL since the early days of October so this will be vital for their respective ambitions.

Both did reach the Mills Cup semi-finals in recent times, though, with Corinthian winning a cracker 8-5 against Railway Union while YM beat Glenanne.

Muckross and Cork Harlequins are both looking to land a key result on Saturday. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Elsewhere, there is a full boat of the men’s EYHL2 fixtures with the Pool A clash between Cork C of I and Instonians a tasty looking one. Both sides won on their opening day of action and Inst have been able to call on Mikie Watt and Mark Gleghorne this season to good effect.

Railway Union will hope to reprise their 5-1 Leinster league win when they face Rathgar for the second time this season in the group’s other game.

In-form Kilkeel make their tournament bow in Pool B when they host Cork Harlequins. The Mourne men beat Inst last time out and also drew with Cookstown to show their strength. Both clubs are aiming to be the first time to win in this three-team group after Quins tied with Clontarf two weeks ago.

In Pool C, Bandon will look to build on an opening day win when they host Mossley while Cookstown will be confident of a second successive success in Dublin when they go to Portrane, seven days on from eliminating Pembroke from the Irish Senior Cup.

In the women’s EY Hockey League, it’s a slightly shorter line-up with only two games on the agenda with games initially postponed due to the Junior World Cup in South Africa, an event now on the backburner. Pembroke can extend their lead to seven points if they see off bottom side Cork Harlequins.

Belfast Harlequins and Muckross, meanwhile, face a huge encounter at Deramore Park. The hosts have the edge on three points with the Dubliners on just one but they have proven robust in defence via Aoife Glennon and Caroline Mathews and this could be a huge part of the contest.

At the far end has been the problem with just three goals in eight matches while Quins have seven, suggesting this could be a tight, low-scoring match-up.

EYHL2 has its third round of action with some early contenders beginning to mark themselves out. In Pool A, Ards have a five-point lead already and if they can get one over Trinity, they will have a healthy buffer going into the winter break.

Both Galway – in their first game of the campaign – and UCC will be going for the first win when they face off at Dangan on Saturday to build their playoff hopes.

Likewise, in Pool B, Lurgan and NUIG are looking to get a first W on the board. The big guns in this group already look set to be Monkstown and Queen’s and both put their 100% records on the line when they meet at Rathdown.

Sunday has a big interpro tie on the agenda with Leinster meeting Ulster in the Under-21 championship. It is Leinster’s first outing of the season while Ulster are hoping to bounce back after a 3-0 loss to Munster on day one.

Saturday 4th December 2021
EYHL Division 1:
Annadale v Glenanne, Lagan College, 2.30pm; Lisnagarvey v Banbridge, Comber Road, 6pm; Three Rock Rovers v Monkstown, Grange Road, 1pm; UCD v Pembroke Wanderers, Belfield, 2pm; YMCA v Corinthian, Wesley College, 3.50pm

EYHL Division 2
Pool A:
Cork C of I v Instonians, Garryduff, 1pm; Railway Union v Rathgar, Railway Union HC, 1pm
Pool B: Kilkeel v Cork Harlequins, Kilkeel HS, 2.30pm
Pool C: Bandon v Mossley, Bandon GS, 2pm; Portrane v Cookstown, Donabate Leisure Centre, 2pm

EYHL Division 1:
Belfast Harlequins v Muckross, Belfast Harlequins HC, 2.30pm; Pembroke Wanderers v Cork Harlequins, Serpentine Avenue, 2.30pm
EYHL Division 2
Pool 1:
Ards v Trinity, Londonderry Park, 2.30pm; Galway v UCC, Dangan, 1pm
Pool 2: Lurgan v NUIG, Lurgan JHS, 1pm; Monkstown v Queens University, Rathdown, 2.15pm

Sunday 5th December 2021
Under 21 Inter Provincials:
Leinster v Ulster, Comber Road, 2pm