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Pembroke and Insta vye for a first women’s EYHL title

By Saturday evening, the women’s EY Hockey League will have a new champion with either Pembroke of Catholic Institute taking the laurels for the first time.

At different points in the season, Pembroke looked like they might have had it wrapped up at this stage but Insta gave them something to think about last Saturday with their 4-1 win at Rosbrien to send the title chase to a final day.

For Pembroke, they remain in the box seat with a two-point lead and a home date against ninth-placed Muckross. Last week, they had a half-dozen players unavailable with their backline completely rejigged in the absence of Leah McGuire, Isy Delamer, Amy-Kate Trevor and Hayley O’Donnell.

Last week was, incredibly, the first time Pembroke had conceded more than one goal in a game this term. With a more settled line-up, coach Gavin Groves will ease back into their rhythm once again to land the title for the first time.

For Insta, they are guaranteed their best ever finish in the EYHL simply by virtue of the fact this will be their first complete season in the top tier.

The influence of Olympians Róisín Upton and Naomi Carroll cannot be understated; they are both among the top three goalscorers in the league, offering threats from set pieces and play, respectively.

But focusing on that duo is just part of the story. The second goal in last Saturday’s 4-1 win over leaders Pembroke was a pitch-length, training ground move of smooth movement and team interplay.

Leah Clery’s tireless running up top, Laura Foley’s ability to ghost by players and the assurance of Christine O’Shea in defence are all pivotal.

If they win their lunchtime game at Belfast Harlequins (12.45pm, Deramore Park), Insta will have a – potentially temporary – one-point lead in the rankings.

Then, they will hope to be active Muckross supporters for an afternoon, wishing on the relegation-threatened side can deny Pembroke a victory (2.30pm, Serpentine Avenue).

They form exciting parts of a final day of the campaign with something on the line for nine of the ten teams due to the new playoff format. Muckross and Belfast Quins’ fate is also wrapped up in those ties with the Dubliners needing a win to have a chance to avoid the drop – by the time they hit the turf, they will know their equation and what is possible.

Pegasus are already assured of a playoff spot but they will be hoping to upgrade their guaranteed quarter-final spot to a semi; for this to happen, they need Insta to falter and then win over UCD.

The students, though, will know what they need in the last game of the season (starting at 2.50pm at Belfield) to get into the playoffs themselves.

Railway, seventh, can put fifth-placed Old Alex’s playoff hopes in jeopardy if they pick up a win at Milltown in a potential barnstormer. Loreto, meanwhile, will look to pin down a home quarter-final if they can lock down the points at home against Cork Harlequins.

Sunday, meanwhile, sees the women’s Irish Senior Cup semi-finals take place. Holders UCD are going for a fourth title in five editions of the competition but they need to be the first side this season to win at Rosbrien as they go to Catholic Institute – they did draw there on the opening day of the season, the one blemish to Insta’s home record.

Pembroke host Pegasus in a repeat of the 1975 final, the year the Dublin 4 side last won the title.

Saturday, March 26th
Women’s EYHL Division 1:
Belfast Harlequins v Catholic Institute, Deramore Park, 12.30pm; Cork Harlequins v Loreto, Farmers’ Cross, 12.45pm; Old Alex v Railway Union, Milltown, 1.30pm; Pembroke Wanderers v Muckross, Serpentine Avenue, 2.30pm; UCD v Pegasus, Belfield, 2.50pm

Sunday, March 27th
Women’s Irish Senior Cup, semi-finals:
Catholic Institute v UCD, Rosbrien, 1pm; Pembroke v Pegasus, Serpentine Avenue, 4pm

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Pembroke’s late equaliser against Corinthian keeps men’s EYHL relegation battle live

Men’s EYHL – day 16 round-up

Pembroke 2 (I Johnson, M Duggan) Corinthian 2 (M Neill, P Caruth)

Mark Duggan’s last minute equaliser gave Pembroke denied Corinthian a vital victory in the battle to avoid relegation as he struck a cracking reverse-stick shot to make it 2-2 at Serpentine Avenue.

It keeps Pembroke in ninth place but, vitally, they remain in touch with Corinthian, trailing the reds and safety by two points with two rounds of matches still to play.

Pembroke made most of the first half play but left huge holes at the back twice to be caught on the counter. In the early stages, former Pembroke man Simon Thornton did well to keep out Cian Murphy despite getting into a little tangle and he also got a solid boot to Philip Forster’s shot.

The reds, however, took the lead when Chad Futcher launched a big overhead from the edge of his own circle which Max Neill picked up on the opposing D. He rounded Ilko Dartsch down the right to slip the ball home from a tight angle.

It was 2-0 when Caruth was set free in acres of space inside his own half and he was able to find Brinsley Powell overlapping on the baseline. He looked to be impeded but a good advantage allowed the ball to be shovelled into Caruth’s path to finish off.

Pembroke closed out the half with two more chances as Isaac Johnson and a Sothern drag were both turned away by Thornton.

Caruth cleared the bar from a tight angle in the second half before Pembroke started to piled on the pressure. A big block from Ben Murphy kept out a corner as the reds soaked up a huge amount of pressure in Q3 but the lead was cut in half in the fourth quarter when Ronan Flannery powered down the baseline and his cross was finished off first time by Johnson.

And Pembroke laid an even bigger siege to the Corinthian circle which was eventually breach with about 45 seconds left on the counter. It came again down the right wing with Alex Burns finding Duggan peeling away from goal where he unleashed a rocket of a strike to earn the point.

Monkstown 4 (G Sarratt 2, L Cole, M Gibbons) YMCA 1 (R Henderson)

Monkstown made it six wins in succession to move up to second place in the table as a pair of Guy Sarratt saw them pull away from YMCA at Rathdown in the third quarter.

Town had a corner within the first 20 seconds when Davy Carson was felled wife on the right; Lee Cole ripped the ball into the net for a lead they never relinquished. It was 2-0 in the fifth minute when Lee Cole’s long overhead found Jeremy Duncan who laid off to Geoff Cole on the outside. His cross was pin-point and Mark Gibbons was able to guide into the net.

YM were back in the contest in the 10th minute when Sam Hyland danced through a couple of tackles before reversing from the left baseline to Ross Henderson to touch in, 2-1.

From there, the Y had the vast majority of the play but could not take advantage with five corners drawing no score while Grant Glutz’s reverse was well saved by David Fitzgerald.

The goalkeeper also produced a wonderful block from Harry McCarthy’s deflection; Fionn Marriott’s direct running also created three glorious chances with Keith Kenning clearing off the line.

But things unravelled in the third quarter as Guy Sarratt scored from a penalty corner to make it 3-1. Sam Hyland took a 10-minute yellow for a physical foul on Duncan and the Ben O’Grady followed him off. Down to nine, Town took advantage with Sarratt scoring another corner goal. Jakim Bernsden made an outstanding save from Davy Carson to keep it at 4-1 as Monkstown closed out the result with relative ease despite their serious discomfort in the middle phases of the game.

Banbridge 1 (Peter Brown) Annadale 0

Peter Brown got the only goal of the game in the Ulster derby as Banbridge beat Annadale to stay in the hunt for an EY Champions Trophy semi-final ticket.

It came in the second quarter with Peter Brown doing all the work, tackling a defender on the 23-metre line where he whipped the ball onto his reverse and shot home.

Both sides endured a number of cards in the second half but, otherwise, it was a match very low on chances with no penalty corners for either side and precious few sights of goal.

For Bann, they are in fourth place and two points off second spot with two matches to go while Annadale are three points above the relegation zone but can attain safety if they get

UCD 0 Lisnagarvey 4 (M Nelson 2, D Nelson, O Kidd)

Lisnagarvey extended their lead in the men’s EY Hockey League to four points, as they eased to a 4-0 win over already relegated UCD. For Garvey, they led from the seventh minute when Matthew Nelson nailed a reverse-stick shot for the only goal of the first half.

He turned provider for Daniel just after the break who slipped him the ball which was duly dispatched to the roof of the goal. Matthew provided  wondrous third, driving into the circle and shooting low into the bottom corner before Kidd continued his excellent scoring form to complete the win.

Three Rock Rovers v Glenanne – postponed

High winds mean the watering system at Grange Road was unable to reach all parts of the water-based turf with areas deemed dangerous for play and thus the tie was postponed.

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Women’s EYHL title race goes down to final day as Insta beat Pembroke

Women’s EY Hockey League – day 17 round-up
Catholic Institute 4 (L Foley 2, R Upton, H Kelly) Pembroke 1 (G Pinder)

Catholic Institute ensured the women’s EYHL title chase will go down to the wire as the Limerick beat the league leaders with something to spare, cutting the gap to two points with one game to go.

It was their eighth successive home league win and completes an unbeaten home campaign, picking up 25 out of 27 points on offer. For Pembroke, they came into the tie needing a draw or better to win the title for the first time but they struggled without the services of Sinead Loughran, Emily Beatty, Isy Delamer, Amy-Kate Trevor, Hayley O’Donnell and Leah McGuire with their backline overhauled.

They fell behind in the eighth minute when Naomi Carroll slipped a lovely through ball to Laura Foley and her intended cross took a big deflection in off the shoe of a back-pedaling defender.

Hannah Kelly made it 2-0 following an exquisite move down the left wing with Leah Clery picking out the pass and the Kilkenny woman slammed home a backhand shot for 2-0.

Pembroke, though, fought back well before the end of the first half with Gillian Pinder and Orla Macken to the fore with Ellen Curran twisting and turning in midfield. From a series of penalty corners, Pinder flicked in from close range to cut the gap to 2-1.

And they carried that momentum into the early stages of the second half where they held a good volume of possession. Insta, though, always had a greater cohesion and were able to work the ball out of tight spots in neat style and they put daylight back between the sides from a penalty corner. Roisin Upton got the goal, picking up a rebound from a penalty corner from mid-circle.

Foley then crowned the win when she won the breaking ball from a long Upton pass forward and while she had options left and right, she took on the shot herself and picked out the bottom corner.

Insta now face eighth-placed Belfast Harlequins away while Pembroke go to Muckross on the last day of the season to determine the title.

Belfast Harlequins 1 (N Lyttle) Railway Union 4 (E Smyth 2, A Long, Z Delany)
Railway Union kept up their pursuit of an EY Champions Trophy quarter-final spot as three second half goals at Deramore Park saw them win 4-1 on a sunny springtime day.

Railway took a fourth minute lead when Sarah Hawkshaw peeled left around the edge of the D from a long corner move and picked out a perfect line to Emma Smyth to bat in her first of the day.

Quins recovered from their slow start to test Riona Norton down low almost immediately off the back of a Katie Larmour run while Emma Uprichard was also crowded out. They were back on terms when Jenna Watt’s surge down the right earned a corner which Natalie Lyttle powered home for 1-1.

It remained that way through the second quarter with Railway having the edge in play, winning a couple of corners while Zara Delany had a reverse cleared away off the line.

Quins looked dangerous on the counter in Q3 with Suzanne Taylor making an excellent block off Lily Lloyd while Rachel Johnston produced a knee-grazing sliding block to save brilliantly.

Railway retook the lead through Smyth on her reverse after a couple of strong tackles in the D opened up the chance and she found space well to chip in.

Although Quins battled hard to find the equaliser, Railway found some rhythm in their passing and moving and the key third goal was a beauty, Hawkshaw feeding Orla Patton’s whose first time touch against the grain invited Ailish Long to strike first time in the 57th minute for 3-1.

With five minutes to go, Delany added the fourth, a corner move back to the injector. Railway remain in seventh place going into their final game against Old Alex where a win would see them secure a quarter-final spot.

For Harlequins, they stay two points above the relegation line but need a win next week against Catholic Institute to be sure of staying above Muckross.

Muckross 0 Loreto 2 (C Hamill, H Matthews)
Loreto all-but assured themselves a place in the EY Champions Trophy quarter-finals with a hard-won three points at Grange Road against Muckross with Christina Hamill and Hannah Matthews getting the goals in the second half.

The first half was one of few chances with both defences holding up well. Yasmin Pratt twisted and turned before testing Aoife Glennon while two Loreto corners were snuffed out, Jane O’Brien charging down the second one which almost led to a big chance at the far end.

Christina Hamill celebrates her goal for Loreto. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Twice, Loreto had to clear their lines in front of Lizzie Murphy while Siofra O’Brien’s reverse went inches wide to close out the half.

The goal, though, did not take long to arrive after the big break as a corner move initially broke down but the fell to the right where Hamill was on hand to crack home from the right of the D.

The second also came from a corner, a scrappy affair as the injection was a little off course but, after a few bites of the cherry, Matthews slammed in the chance.

Muckross replied with a corner chance which Julia Balcerzak fired at goal but Murphy did well to palm away. That was as close as they came to getting one back as Loreto defended their 23-metre zone well for the remainder of the contest to secure a precious three points.

UCD 2 (S McAuley, K Egan) Old Alex 0
UCD beat Old Alex for the second time in three days, backing up their Jacqui Potter Cup final success with an important league win which keeps them in the top six and an EY Champions Trophy berth.

UCD raced out of the blocks with Holly Micklem forced to make three big stops, the first from point-blank range from Katherine Egan on the volley, next from Michelle Carey and then from Egan again on the reverse.

Next she blocked Rachel Kelly sliding out after Carey’s driving run. Alex’s best chances came from a pair of corners but Ellie McLoughlin did well to block both. It was UCD who were largely on top, camping in Alex territory for much of the second quarter but to no avail on the scoreboard.

The deadlock was broken in the third quarter when Sarah McAuley – one of a string of players returning from international duty – picked out the unguarded bottom right of the backboard from her side’s third set piece.

Alex – who were without Deirdre Duke and Nikki Evans – came on strong in the closing quarter with Jess McGirr a powerful presence; she drew a low block from McLoughlin while there were a number of other scrambles that were repelled.

UCD’s clincher, however, came with six minutes to go when Egan claimed a touch on a long ball into the middle by Katie-Jane Marshall. It was initially given as a free out but a consultation saw the goal awarded.

Pegasus 11 (A Speers 4, N McIvor 3, L McKee 2, L Paul, E Armstrong) Cork Harlequins 0
Pegasus ran up a facile 11-0 win over already relegated Cork Harlequins to stay very much in the hunt for an automatic EY Champions Trophy semi-final spot.

The game was as good as done by the fifth minute with Alex Speers netting the first two of her four goals on the day either side of a Niamh McIvor effort.

Speers had her hat trick by the 10th minute and it was up to 7-0 by half-time of a hugely one-sided affair as McIvor also landed a treble. That win keeps them two points off second placed Catholic Institute as they look to try and secure a bypass through the first round of the playoffs for the big prize.

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First time EYHL regular season winner nears in women’s league

Whatever happens, the women’s EY Hockey League will have a first-time winner with the three sides mathematically in contention never having reached the playoffs before since the competition went full-season, let alone take top spot.

The clear favourite is Pembroke who moved five points clear last week but they are going to the toughest venue in Irish hockey with Catholic Institute only dropping two points at Rosbrien in eight outings to date.

Then again, Pembroke’s away form is also the best in the league with 20 points garnered from 24 this term. A key feature has been the ability to find different game winners each game with 15 different goalscorers – amazingly none have scored more than four in the league.

Gillian Pinder provides a lot of magic, deployed in a deep-lying role last week, while Orla Macken joining the attack is a big feature. The pace on foot and of the ball is another crucial facet of their game while just 10 goals conceded is testament to the importance of Emma Buckley, Leah McGuire and Amy-Kate Trevor.

For Insta, they have endured a tough couple of weeks with two losses while they will hope there is not too much weariness in the legs of Naomi Carroll and Roisin Upton following training games at Bisham Abbey against Great Britain.

The Olympic pair are first and second on the league’s goalscoring charts with 12 and 11 goals, respectively, while Aoife Hickey and Muireann Scanlon have impressed, too.

Elsewhere, there is something riding on every fixture. Belfast Harlequins welcome back Jane Kilpatrick for the visit of Railway Union, the side one place – but 16 points – above them.

For Quins, they had hoped to be clear of any relegation uncertainty but last Sunday’s loss to Muckross has cut their gap to two points. Railway, meanwhile, fell out of the top six after a 1-0 defeat to UCD. Railway have Lily Lloyd coming back having lined out for the Irish senior panel in Bisham Abbey this week.

Erratic Loreto hit form last weekend against Insta and if they can back that up against Muckross at the opposite end of the Grange Road, they will likely ensure an extended season. Siofra O’Brien scored for Ireland in a 3-1 training match win vs GB this week in what was her first time lining out for the senior side.

UCD and Old Alex meet for the second time in three days with both sides potentially making a number of changes in personnel from Thursday’s Jacqui Potter Cup final which the students won 2-1.

For UCD, Ellie McLoughlin, Katie-Jane Marshall, Michelle Carey, Sarah McAuley and Hannah McLoughlin could come back in while Lena Tice might be back for the Milltown club.

Pegasus are back on the hunt for a top two place and they are up against Cork Harlequins at home, the latter bouncing back from their relegation to land the Munster Senior Cup after a shoot-out win over UCC.

For the student side, they go to Corinthian with Caoimhe Perdue potentially rejoining the line-up. The reds, meanwhile, are looking to close the gap to group leaders Ards who won the Ulster Premier League in midweek.

Pool 2 has more up for grabs with Queen’s, Lurgan and Cork C of I all jostling for second and third. Lurgan are third and host second placed Queen’s at Lurgan College this week while fourth side C of I go to NUIG, knowing a win would lift them back into the playoff places.

In terms of the next steps, the second place finishers in each group will have home advantage in the promotion playoff quarter-finals against the third place side from the other group on April 2nd.

The winner of these quarter-finals will play against the group winners in the semi-finals on April 9th at Corinthian’s Whitechurch Park with the victors from those final four games earning promotion and a place in the April 10th final.

Women
EYHL Division 1:
Belfast Harlequins v Railway Union, Deramore Park, 2.30pm; Catholic Institute v Pembroke Wanderers, Rosbrien, 1pm; Muckross v Loreto, Grange Road, 1pm; Pegasus v Cork Harlequins, Queens, 12.45pm; UCD v Old Alex, Belfield, 1pm

EYHL Division 2 – Pool 1: Corinthian v UCC, Whitechurch Park, 1.15pm; Trinity v Galway, Trinity Sports Grounds, 2.30pm
Pool 2: Lurgan v Queens University, Lurgan College, 12.45pm; NUIG v Cork C of I, Dangan, 1.50pm

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Pembroke and Corinthian’s battle royale in men’s EYHL relegation tussle

Pembroke and Corinthian face a battle royale as both look to get some breathing room the men’s EYHL relegation contest as the regular season enters its last three rounds.

The Serpentine Avenue side have home advantage which they will hope to use to overhaul the two-point gap to the reds as they aim to repeat their 4-3 success from November.

For Corinthian, they have been boosted by the return of South African international Chad Futcher with his impact at penalty corners and long overheads from the back.

Their defence will be pivotal in trying to tame Julian Dale (15) and Alan Sothern (12) who have combined for 27 EYHL goals to sit second and third in the league’s goalscoring charts.

Both clubs have endured frustration in the past two rounds, conceding late to miss out on points in 3-2 defeats to Three Rock Rovers and are looking to arrest three-game losing streaks, suggesting the sides will be very much well-matched.

At the top, Lisnagarvey will be expected to maintain their lead when they travel to already relegated UCD but they did struggle initially against the students earlier in the campaign before cutting loose.

Ben Nelson has been missing up front for the past few games but James Lorimer is back in the mix and Garvey have still been in flying form in front of goal with 14 goals across their last three wins. Overall, they have had 14 different scorers in this campaign, the highest of any club to date.

Three Rock Rovers host Glenanne off the back of a St Patrick’s Day Mills Cup final success with Ben Johnson scoring a hat trick of corners in a 5-2 win over YMCA. The Glens have had a frustrating run of late, picking up just four points from the last 12 available to stymie their title hopes. Shane O’Donoghue’s 20 goals mark him out as the clear top-scorer.

Monkstown are the league’s in-form team with five wins in succession and have the best defensive record; they meet YM who are without Matthew Walker while his younger brother Adam missed the Mills final on Thursday, too, leading to some rearrangement at the back.

Banbridge’s Alexander Tinney and Annadale’s Adam McAllister lock horns. Picture: Billy Pollock

In Ulster, Banbridge host Annadale in the Ulster derby with the former unbeaten in 10 games but a couple of draws leaves them four points away from the top two. Dale moved four points clear of the relegation zone last week and if they can nick a result, it would go a long way to securing their continued EYHL status.

In EYHL2, it is hitting crunch time with the playoffs coming into view. The top two from each group will qualify for the playoff stages; with three groups, the top-two ranked pool winners will go straight through to the semi-finals while the third best pool winner and the three group runners-up go into the quarter-final phase.

The quarter-finals will be played on April 2 with the winners going to the EYHL2 finals weekend to be played at Corinthian Hockey Club on April 9 and 10.

The winner of the semi-finals will be promoted to the EYHL for 2022/23 with a final for overall winner to be played a day later.

In the competition itself, Railway Union ran up a 9-1 win over Rathgar in Group A on Tuesday night with Mark English adding another four goals to his remarkable total for the season.

It put them eight-points clear at the top of the table of the next two chasers – Instonians and Cork C of I – who meet on Saturday afternoon at Shaw’s Bridge, making it a crucial fixture in the playoff chase.

In Group B, Cork Harlequins will hope to bounce back after their tough loss, Covid-affected 6-1 loss to Clontarf a week ago. They welcome Kilkeel at Farmers’ Cross with whoever wins going top of the table; for Quins, it is their last chance to put their hat in the ring for a playoff spot while the Mourne men have this one and next week’s home date with Clontarf to come.

Group C had a shake-up last with Portrane’s win at Bandon putting the cat among the pigeons. However, the top two could be done and dusted formally this weekend with Cookstown hosting the Fingal side while Bandon go to Mossley; should Town or Bandon get a draw or more, they will be through in some shape or form.

Sunday sees the second last fixture of the men’s Under-21 round-robin phase with Ulster up against Leinster looking to overturn their 3-1 defeat when the sides met at Comber Road. For the blues, a win would guarantee they top their group.

Men’s weekend fixtures
Saturday 19th March 2022
EYHL Division 1:
Banbridge v Annadale, Havelock Park, 2.45pm; Monkstown v YMCA, Rathdown, 2.15pm; Pembroke Wanderers v Corinthian, Serpentine Avenue, 2.30pm; Three Rock Rovers v Glenanne, Grange Road, 1pm; UCD v Lisnagarvey, Belfield, 2.50pm

EYHL Division 2
Group A:
Instonians v Cork C of I, Shaw’s Bridge, 1pm
Group B: Cork Harlequins v Kilkeel, Farmers’ Cross, 2.45pm
Group C: Cookstown v Portrane, Steelweld Park, 2.30pm; Mossley v Bandon, The Glade, 2.30pm

Sunday 20th March 2022
Under 21 Inter Provincials:
Ulster v Leinster, Grange Road, 3pm

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Monkstown land women’s EYHL2 semi berth as Ards close in too

Monkstown became the first women’s side to have a confirmed semi-final spot in the women’s EYHL Division 2 finals weekend with Ards within touching distance of joining them following their respective wins over the weekend.

For Town, they won well at Queens on Saturday 4-1 with two goals from Emily Kealy to make it seven wins from seven thus far and put 20 points between them and the Ulster club.

It has now opened up the battle for the remaining playoff places from this group with Lurgan leaping ahead of Cork C of I thanks to a 3-1 success in NUIG.

Jo-Anne Reid, Chloe McBride and Leanne Thompson got the Lurgan goals with a nice corner switch from Freddie Timmins giving NUIG their goal.

Lurgan (14 points) face Queens (15) next week while C of I (12) return to action at Dangan against NUIG, leaving lots to play for in the closing rounds of this group.

In Group A, Ards are 10 points clear of Corinthian and have a strong goal difference off the back of their 5-0 victory at Trinity on Saturday with Zara Malseed getting a hat-trick.

They could advance without hitting a ball if Corinthian have any slip next week against UCC; otherwise, Ards need just a point from their last game against Galway on March 26th.

UCC strengthened their hold on a playoff place with a 7-2 win over Galway who battled hard but were without several regulars for the trip to the Mardyke due to Covid.

Nikki Barry set the ball rolling before Christina Dring and Lauren Ryan both scored twice each. The Cork club need a point from next week’s game against Corinthian to formally confirm their place in the playoffs.

On Sunday, Catholic Institute won their twice postponed Irish Senior Cup quarter-final against Banbridge where first quarter goals from Carroll, Clery and Hannah Kelly set them on their way to a 5-0 success. They will face UCD on March 27th in the final four.

In the Irish Junior Cup, Corinthian advanced to meet holders Pembroke in the decider following their respective wins over Railway Union and Queen’s.

Women’s EYHL Division 2
Pool 1:
Trinity 0 Ards 5 (Z Malseed 3, E Robinson, C Adams); UCC 7 (C Dring 2, L Ryan 2, A O’Mahony, E O’Sullivan, N Barry) Galway 2 (A Manley, A McDonnell)
Pool 2: NUIG 1 (F Timmins) Lurgan 3 (J-A Reid, C McBride, L Thompson); Queens University 1 (S McDowell) Monkstown 4 (E Kealy 2, R Carthy, C Watkins)

Irish Senior Cup, quarter-final: Banbridge 0 Catholic Institute 5 (N Carroll, L Clery, H Kelly, J Clein, C O’Shea)
Irish Junior Cup – Semi-Finals: Corinthian II 4 Railway Union II 2; Pembroke II 3 Queens University II 1

Monkstown’s Emily Kealy. Pic: Deryck Vincent

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Annadale’s four-goal swing gives survival hopes boost as UCD relegated from men’s EYHL

Men’s EY Hockey League – day 15 round-up
Lisnagarvey 4 (O Kidd, M Nelson, D Nelson, J Lynch) YMCA 1 (G Glutz)

Lisnagarvey eased to a comfortable 4-1 win over YMCA at Comber Road to keep their two-point lead at the top of the table In tact with three rounds to go. It was largely built around three goals in as many minutes early in the second half which saw them race away.

In the first 10 minutes, Garvey showed their intent with five sights of goal; Matthew Nelson had a shot charged down by Ben Chadwick, Jakim Bernsden denied his next effort while Adam Walker cut out a dangerous Troy Chamber’s run.

Nelson did get his goal when Jonny Lynch raced around the left of the D and crossed for a deflected finish.

After that fast start, YM settled and enjoyed some quick-paced counter-attacks while they survived another scare when Andy Williamson turned in a Mark McNellis cross but with his body at the back post rather than his stick.

The result was settled early in the second half with those three quickfire goals. Daniel Nelson’s short was well saved but only to Lynch who flicked in. A loose clearance led to a steal on the 23-metere line which led to a shot and two rebounds, the last of which was thumped in by Ollie Kidd.

And Daniel Nelson made it 4-0 when he had time to turn and flick in. YM finished strong with Grant Glutz scoring from their first set of corners – he initially hit the backboard but the whistle had gone for a linebreak. No matter, from the reset, he went higher down the glove side.

Pembroke 2 (A Sothern, J Dale) Three Rock Rovers 3 (J Walker, R Spencer, B Johnson)
Ben Johnson’s ninth goal of the EYHL season saw Three Rock snatch the points at Serpentine Avenue in the 67th minute, denying Pembroke who had led with nine minutes to go.

He nailed a low corner from Rovers’ seventh corner to keep up their pursuit of Lisnagarvey while Pembroke remain in the relegation spot with two points to make up on Corinthian who they meet next Saturday.

The first half was a quiet affair as torrential rain limited the pace of the game. James Walker did pop in the main chance of the half, a corner shot that was saved onto the post but bounced out invitingly for him to finish off.

Alan Sothern was the main first half threat for Pembroke and he levelled the game in the 48th minute from his side’s first corner of the game. It was slightly in its build-up but once Sothern got the ball on his reverse, he fired in a perfect backhand shot.

He went close to another but his drag was saved off the line by Jody Hosking before Julian Dale whipped in Pembroke’s third corner in the 55th minute.

From there, Rovers piled on the pressure with the hosts scrambling to block down a couple of corners with Harry Spain showing immense bravery. Dale also took a yellow card during the endgame and it proved pivotal as Rovers netted twice in his absence, overloading with Mick Maguire and Harry McMahon making key incisions which allowed Ryan Spencer to turn home from close range.

And another set of corners led to the winner with three minutes to go to turn things around in dramatic fashion.

Annadale 5 (D Tremlett 2, R Davidson, M Robson, S Pinion) UCD 3 (K O’Dea, S Byrne, E Ramsay)
Annadale made a big leap toward EY Hockey League safety as UCD’s relegation was formally sealed on Saturday afternoon in the wake of a wild 5-3 scoreline.

The Ulster side recovered from a perilous position against the student side, trailing 3-1 in Q3. Spencer Pinion had put Dale in front from a corner drag-flick but a Kevin O’Dea penalty stroke in the first quarter.

And a quickfire pair from captain Ewan Ramsay and Sam Byrne saw the students race into a 3-1 lead, the former slapping in off the underside of the crossbar while the latter produced a piledriver on his backhand.

It awoke the Ulster side from their slumber and they produced a blistering seven-minute spell in which David Tremlett got them back in the game when he slotted in after Tim Cross’s run. Robbie Davidson levelled when he picked up the pieces from mid-circle and they led once more when Michael Robson turned and smashed in from the top of the D.

Tremlett added another into an open net with a touch to Cross’s ball in the final minute to seal the deal and a vital three points.

Banbridge 2 (L Witherow, J McKee) Corinthian 1 (M Neill)
Banbridge moved up to fourth place in the table after a contest in which they had the chances to win a greater margin of comfort but almost fell to a late sucker-punch from the visiting reds.

Bann won their first corner in the opening 10 seconds and earned two more before the third minute was up and it seemed only a matter of time before they would take the lead. That came when Jonny McKee produced some magical skills on the left baseline, Josh Moffett took it on and spun the ball across to Luke Witherow to finish off at close quarters.

It was 2-0 seconds later as McKee got a near post touch to a drive in from the right-wing. From there, it looked like the Havelock Park hosts were going to ease clear as they enjoyed the vast majority of the play.

But Corinthian struck out of the blue from their first major attack in the 34th minute, the returning Chad Futcher – in his first game of 2022 – ripped a ball into the D which was half-stopped and fell to Max Neill who calmly flicked in.

Simon Thornton made a series of good stops in Q3 as Banbridge continued to make most of the play. McKee was somehow denied from a corner move by a sprawling Craig Mackay who deflected the ball onto the post at point-blank range.

And, with just a goal in it, Corinthian were live on the contest and Neill went close to an equaliser with four minutes to go with a volley that flashed over from a tight angle. They also got their first corners with two minutes left but Bann charged down Futcher’s two efforts on goal to maintain their lead.

Glenanne 1 (S Boucher) Monkstown 2 (M Gibbons, J Duncan)
Monkstown struck twice in the last eight minutes to make it five wins in a row in the league and keep up their chase for a top two finish, putting a big hole in Glenanne’s similar hopes.

Shannon Boucher gave Glenanne the lead in the first quarter from a corner and they held that lead for a long time with Shane O’Donoghue saving off the line from Guy Sarratt.

Richard Couse’s spectacular deflection effort went just over while the Glens also had a corner spin-move disallowed but Monkstown turned the screw in the closing minutes, getting level through Mark Gibbons and then winning it with just a handful of minutes to go from a turnover on the 23-metre line.

Three sweet passes later and Jeremy Duncan was tipping in for his second goal in successive weeks for a big three-point swing.

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Pembroke move within touching distance of women’s EYHL title

Women’s EY Hockey League – day 16 round-up
Saturday: Pembroke 3 (A-K Trevor, S Loughran, O Macken) Belfast Harlequins 0

Pembroke moved within one result of the women’s EY Hockey League title as three second half goals saw them get the best of a hard-working Belfast Harlequins.

The first half was scoreless with both sides having corners blocked while Pembroke had the edge in terms of general play but could not break through.

They did get on the board in Q3 when Ellen Curran turned over possession to earn a corner which was scored by Amy-Kate Trevor.

It was not a comfortable lead, though, as Quins – powered by an awesome performance from Jane Kilpatrick – made a number of strong chances on the counter and had a couple of corners.

But the game was made safe in the closing five minutes when Rachel O’Brien got to the left baseline and laid the ball on a plate for Sinead Loughran to tap in at the back post.

And Orla Macken finished off the victory with a flourish, shooting in a backhand shot from a final second corner for 3-0.

Belfast Harlequins Emma Uprichard in action against Pembroke’s Gillian Pinder. Pic Max Fulham

Loreto 4 (A Taaffe 2, A Murray, H Matthews) Catholic Institute 2 (L Clery, N Carroll)
Loreto won a firecracker of a contest at Beaufort to boost their EY Champions Trophy playoff chances while putting another dent in Catholic Institute’s league title hopes.

It was a performance built around the speed and direct-running of forward trio Aoife Taaffe, Yasmin Pratt and Siofra O’Brien in a game played at a frantic pace.

Pratt’s brilliant surge and cross into the path of Aisling Murray invited a first-time finish to make it 1-0 in the fifth minute. Insta replied well and were unluckily denied a goal when Naomi Carroll hit the backboard just after the whistle had sounded for a penalty corner.

They did get level when Carroll’s shot made it to Leah Clery at the back post and she forced it over the line despite the best efforts of Lizzie Murphy.

At the far end, Christine O’Shea blocked brilliantly from another swift Loreto attack but Loreto had the half-time lead when another Pratt run put Taaffe through and she measured her finish well for 2-1.

Taaffe then went ballistic in the second half with a goal of the season contender, taking on the ball 40-metres from goal, drawing in a defender and then moving away to the left to unleash a tomahawk high into the net.

Hannah Matthews’ heavily deflected corner shot looped in to make it 4-1; Carroll did get one back – her 13th goal of the EYHL campaign – with a camogie-style lift and hit but Loreto held on for a vital win.

Cork Harlequins 1 (L O’Shea) Old Alex 4 (J McGirr 2, A Russell, M O’Donnell)
Cork Harlequins’ relegation was mathematically confirmed at a drenched Farmers Cross as the yellow rain warning came early. Old Alex took the points to move within point of second place with hopes of landing a possible automatic semi-final spot in the EY Champions Trophy.

Old Alex took a fourth minute lead when Abbie Russell got a touch onto Lena Tice’s shot to start the ball rolling. Jessica McGirr – with her first of the day – added the second just before the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter was more end-to-end and Quins got their goal in the 27th minute but Alex came straight back with a third goal via McGirr.

The third quarter was even enough with both teams having attacking play and chances on goal with Quins unable to capitalise from some corners. Millie O’Donnell, though, was accurate from the set piece to make it 4-1

The last quarter was a real test of will for both sides, not wanting to give up despite the miserable elements.

Railway Union 0 UCD 1 (A Naughton)
UCD swapped places with Railway Union with Aine Naughton getting the only goal of the game with a crucial touch to Michelle Carey’s ball in. It leaves Railway outside of the playoffs going into the final two rounds of the season.

Railway created some early opportunities with Sarah Hawkshaw getting the first chance from a nice interchange which Ellie McLoughlin saved. A couple of corners were also incomplete before Rachel Kelly had a first UCD opening denied by Riona Norton.

A diving Kate Lloyd was unlucky net a strong flat ball in the circle from her sister Lily, and the UCD keeper calmly denied a point-blank attempt from Hawkshaw.

UCD placed intense pressure on the Railway defence, forcing turnovers to create opportunities, while Caoimhe Byrne got in around the back creating havoc but it remained scoreless into the break.

The deadlock broke late in the third quarter when a tackling-evading Michelle Carey delivered a diagonal pass into the circle for the students finish with a touch from Naughton.

Another excellent run from Carey was snuffed out by Norton while Railway’s big chance came when Alex Gallagher tore into the circle but the pass fell just behind Emma Smyth.

In the closing moments of the fourth quarter, Railway pulled their goalkeeper. Despite the outfield player number advantage, the game ended 1-0 with UCD clinching victory.

Muckross 0 Pegasus 3 (A Speers 2, N McIvor)
Pegasus made it two wins in a row with a 3-0 success at Grange Road to keep themselves in the chase for a top two finish in the league. In an energetic first half, Pegasus went in front following a sustained wave of attacks with Alex Speers on the mark.

Muckross started Q2 well but they were pegged back once again with Niamh McIvor making it 2-0 at half-time. And the win was complete in the third quarter with an effortless strike from Speers, driving into the left corner from a sharp angle.

Sunday: Muckross 3 (S Quill, S Barnwell, E Mathews) Belfast Harlequins 1 (J Watt)
Muckross came back from a goal down to beat an understrength Belfast Harlequins and keep alive their hopes of staying in the top tier of the EYHL. The victory cuts the gap between the teams to two points on either side of the relegatiion line.

Quins were without Jane Kilpatrick who was travelling with the Irish team and had another pair of players out due to Covid but they went on front nonetheless via Jenna Watt.

Muckross equalised quickly from a penalty corner with Sarah Quill getting the goal, 1-1 at the end of Q1.

Sophie Barnwell put them in front for the first time when she found herself in plenty of space don’t a channel on the right and she drove on before sliding home a nice finish.

Before half-time, Quins had a number of good chances to get back on terms with Sophie Hunter and Katie Larmour at the heart of their big moments.

But the game was out of reach in the third quarter when Quill lashed a shot at Suzanne Taylor who saved well but the ball popped to Emma Mathews who reacted quickly to return the ball with interest to the top corner.

The Belfast side piled on the pressure in the last quarter with Emma Uprichard to the fore while Watt hit the base of the post from a corner. Next on the agenda for Harlequins are home dates with Railway Union and Catholic Institute while Muckross host Loreto and go to Pembroke.

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EYHL title chases and relegation battle come into ever sharper focus

A number of the big outcomes in the EY Hockey Leagues are likely to come into sharper focus with the fixtures coming thick and fast this weekend.

It started on Thursday evening when Loreto drew 1-1 at home with UCD in the women’s EYHL. Hannah McLoughlin gave UCD a second quarter lead but a Siofra O’Brien reverse-stick effort levelled the tie.

That result lifted the Beaufort side into fifth, ahead of Railway Union on goal difference, with the students staying in seventh place and two points outside of the EY Champions Trophy quarter-final spots.

It makes for a vital showdown between Railway and UCD at Park Avenue on Saturday afternoon in that particular chase.

For Loreto, their next port of call is a home date against Catholic Institute who are aiming to bounce back from last Sunday’s defeat to Railway Union.

The equation for the Limerick side in the title chase is currently relatively simple – win their last three games and they will be the EYHL champions. In reality, that path is fraught with pitfalls with the Loreto tie a tough start; they then host leaders Pembroke on March 19th before travelling away to Belfast Harlequins on March 26th.

They also have their twice postponed Irish Senior Cup quarter-final against Banbridge thrown into the mix on Sunday morning as part of their schedule.

Pembroke, for their part, have a little more wriggle room in their pursuit of a first EYHL success with their two-point lead going into the final three rounds of action. That starts on Saturday with a home date against Belfast Harlequins.

At the bottom end of the table, this could well be the weekend the relegation issues get done and dusted. Anything other than a win for Cork Harlequins at Farmers Cross against Old Alex on Saturday will see their current tenure in the competition come to an end.

Muckross also need to get something from their double-weekend of home fixtures at Grange Road against Belfast opponents, starting with Pegasus on Saturday and then a crucial fixture against Belfast Harlequins on Sunday, the side five points above them.

In EYHL2, Monkstown will formally have top spot from Group 2 if they pick up at least a losing bonus point at Queen’s. Lurgan go to Galway to play NUIG needing a win to return to the playoff places.

Group 1 has Ards hoping to go 10 points clear but they face a tester of a tie against Dublin University in Santry. UCC will hope to strengthen their position in third when they host Galway.

There’s also a full deck of fixtures in the men’s EYHL. Glenanne’s game with Monkstown is the big one in the top half with any dropped points perhaps spelling the end of their outside title hopes. Both are on 28 points, four off leaders Lisnagarvey with four rounds of matches to go.

Annadale will hope they can put further distance between themselves and the drop zone when they host UCD whose fate could be formally sealed on Saturday.

The other sides in the relegation battle – Corinthian and Pembroke – have tough fixtures with the former going to Banbridge who are unbeaten since November and the latter hosting Three Rock Rovers.

Lisnagarvey will look to maintain their place at the top but they are meeting a YMCA side in decent form, winning three of their last five games to establish themselves as the side likely to complete the EY Champions Trophy quarter-final line-up.

EYHL2’s second half of the campaign begins in earnest. In Group A, Leinster leaders Railway Union hosts unbeaten Ulster Premier side Instonians in a vital battle while Munster’s current leaders Cork C of I have no room for error against Rathgar on Saturday.

In Group B, both Clontarf and Corinthian are gunning for a first victory of the campaign to try and close the gap to Kilkeel who are on the bye weekend.

Bandon, meanwhile, already look assured of a place in the promotion playoffs and the target is now to top the table. Currently, they have the best record across the three groups which would bring with it a semi-final spot; next up is a game with fourth placed Portrane.

Cookstown’s Ulster derby with Mossley will go a long way to determining their chances of progression.

On Sunday, meanwhile, the Irish Junior Cup semi-finals take place with the men’s competition primarily an Ulster-based affair. Cookstown host Bangor while Annadale are up against YMCA, the former getting a reprieve after Banbridge played an ineligible player in the quarter-final. In the women’s competition, Pembroke face Queens and Corinthian host Railway Union in their final four.

Thursday 10th March 2022
Women
EYHL Division 1:
Loreto 1 (S O’Brien) UCD 1 (H McLoughlin)

Saturday 12th March 2022
Men
EYHL Division 1:
Annadale v UCD, Lagan College, 2.30pm; Banbridge v Corinthian, Havelock Park, 2.45pm; Glenanne v Monkstown, St Andrews, 12pm; Lisnagarvey v YMCA, Comber Road, 3pm; Pembroke Wanderers v Three Rock Rovers, Serpentine Avenue, 4pm

EYHL Division 2
Pool 1:
Cork C of I v Rathgar, Garryduff, 2pm; Railway Union v Instonians, Park Avenue, 3.30pm
Pool 2: Clontarf v Cork Harlequins, Mount Temple, 2pm
Pool 3: Bandon v Portrane, Bandon GS, 2pm; Mossley v Cookstown, The Glade, 2.30pm

Women
EYHL Division 1:
Cork Harlequins v Old Alex, Farmers’ Cross, 12.45pm; Loreto v Catholic Institute, Beaufort, 1pm; Muckross v Pegasus, Grange Road, 1pm; Pembroke v Belfast Harlequins, Serpentine Avenue, 2pm; Railway Union v UCD, Park Avenue, 1.30pm

EYHL Division 2
Pool 1:
Trinity v Ards, Santry Avenue, 2pm; UCC v Galway, Mardyke, 2pm
Pool 2: NUIG v Lurgan, Dangan, 1.50pm; Queens University v Monkstown, Malone Playing Fields, 12.45pm

Sunday 13th March 2022
Men
Irish Junior Cup – Semi-Finals:
Annadale II v YMCA II, Stormont, 2.30pm; Cookstown II v Bangor II, Cookstown HS, 1pm

Women
EYHL Division 1:
Muckross v Belfast Harlequins, Grange Road, 2.30pm
Irish Senior Cup, quarter-final: Banbridge v Catholic Institute, Havelock Park, 11am
Irish Junior Cup – Semi-Finals: Corinthian II v Railway Union II, Whitechurch Park, 12.30pm; Pembroke II v Queens University II, Serpentine Avenue, 3.30pm

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Female Performance Coach Development programme up and running

Hockey Ireland is delighted to announce that our Female Performance Coach Development programme (PCD) has launched with eight coaches on the first year of the programme.

The programme, which is funded by Sport Ireland’s Women in Sport Initiative, was designed to support the development of female coaches who wish to coach at performance level. Each coach is partnered with a dedicated mentor who will work alongside them to monitor and assist in their progress throughout the year.

Hockey Ireland will provide tailored learning opportunities for the coaches through our coach education department. The mentoring team includes experienced coach developers Una McCarthy, David Passmore, Denis Pritchard, and Mick McKinnon.

HI Coach Education manager Phil Oakley said “We are delighted to finally have the programme up and running after delays due to Covid. We have assembled a strong mentoring team and hopefully the programme will provide a platform for this first group of coaches to achieve their goals”.