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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”.

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Railway end Insta winning streak as Pegs move back into fourth

Railway Union ended Catholic Institute’s long winning streak to provide a second big twist to the women’s EY Hockey League title race while giving their own EY Champions Trophy aspirations a massive boost.

Insta had the chance to move top for the first time if they could extend their run to seven wins and they started off well with Jenny Clein scoring from their first corner of the contest, coming just two minutes after she came off the bench.

But Railway were in bullish mood off the back of their strong draw against Pembroke on Saturday and they went level when Orla Fox dragged in a penalty corner.

Lily Lloyd made it 2-1 with a spectacular finish, shooting into the top corner on her reverse and they carried that momentum into the second half. Lloyd became the creator for the third goal when her lovely flat cross got the finish it deserved from Zara Delany at the back post.

Insta fought back and got one back in the 65th minute courtesy of Aebhfhinn Bourke but Railway held on for the points which lifts them up to fifth place.

For Institute, they now have an interesting proposition as they end the weekend in second place. Should they win their three remaining fixtures, they will be champions – it is a tough line-up, though, with away dates against Loreto and Belfast Harlequins along with a vital battle with Pembroke on March 19.

For Pembroke, should they also win their three remaining ties, too, they will be champs – in addition to Insta, they face Belfast Harlequins and Muckross.

In the other game on Sunday, Pegasus ended their run of three defeats – all without scoring – to pick an important win over Old Alex, 2-1 at the Dub.

The first half was tight with Hannah Craig’s two penalty corner hits the main chances, the latter almost redirected in by Ruth Maguire.

But they did get their goal, ending a run of 274 minutes without one, when Shirley McCay slapped a third corner into the path of Alex Speers and she broke the deadlock in Q3.

It stayed that way after some big scramble defence before Pegasus put themselves further in the clear when Lucy McKee battled through to pop in the second with 12 minutes to go.

Emma Russell got one back amid a melee in front of the Alex goal with two minutes to goal but the Ulster side won out. It sees them move back up the table into fourth place.

The next tie on the agenda is UCD’s meeting with Loreto on Thursday night at Beaufort – their third face-off within a month. Loreto won the league tie 4-1 while the students took the Jacqui Potter Cup semi-final result 3-1 last week.

Women’s EYHL Division 1
Sunday:
Railway Union 3 (O Fox, L Lloyd, Z Delany) Catholic Institute 2 (J Clein, A Bourke); Pegasus 2 (A Speers, L McKee) Old Alex 1 (E Russell)

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Lisnagarvey stay clear in men’s EYHL as Town, YM and TRR win

Men’s EY Hockey League – day 14 round-up
Monkstown 4 (D Carson 2, G Sarratt, J Duncan) Annadale 1 (M Robson)

A brilliant four-goal burst in the first quarter saw Monkstown ease to victory over Annadale at Rathdown, moving into a share of third place.

Davy Carson was at his effervescent best and he broke the deadlock a couple of minutes in when he peeled away to take in Guy Sarratt’s rocket of a pass in his stride. His control was followed by an outstanding reverse-stick to the top corner.

He was denied an instant second when he pumped into the goal but was deemed to have shielded in the build-up. It was 2-0, however, via a brilliant team goal when Lee Cole clipped a pass which Theo Kohlmann controlled well before passing on to Rhys Armah-Kwantreng who found Jeremy Duncan; he flicked in on the turn.

Duncan played a heavy role in goal three with some aerial juggling before hitting the post with Sarratt on hand to clean up the rebound. And their scoring was complete by the 15th minute when Kohlmann picked out Carson whose snap-shot on the turn made its way in.

Annadale steadied after the first break and had a couple of good chances through Michael Robson while Sam Hamill blocked a couple of chances with acrobatic saves.

Into the second half, Sarratt flicked a stroke wide moments before Dale got on the board from the spot, themselves, after David Tremlett was fouled; Michael Robson popped it in. Both sides had four more corners in the second half but none were converted.

Banbridge 2 (Ph Brown, C Rowe) Glenanne 2 (R Couse, S O’Donoghue)
Banbridge and Glenanne’s potential title chances were both setback as their draw – allied to wins to the sides around them – left them almost out of range.

Richard Couse got the only goal of the first half but Bann turned things around in the second half with Philip Brown and Charlie Rowe both scoring. Shane O’Donoghue’s penalty stroke equalised at 2-2 before the end of Q3.

Glenanne are now four points of top spot while Banbridge are in fifth with six points to make up on Lisnagarvey and four to Three Rock in the second EY Champions Trophy place.

Banbridge’s Jonny McKee flicks past Glenanne goalkeeper David Lawless. Pic: Billy Pollock

Lisnagarvey 7 (A Edgar 2, D Nelson 2, M McKibbin, O Kidd, M Nelson) Pembroke 1 (J Dale)
Lisnagarvey put struggling Pembroke to the sword to maintain their slender two-point lead at the top of the men’s EY Hockey League, running up a comprehensive 7-1 win at Comber Road.

It also ended a remarkable series which saw the lead change hands in each of the last six rounds of fixtures as Garvey built on last week’s significant 3-2 success over Three Rock Rovers.

Garvey took a while to get up and running as a series of close changes went incomplete in the first quarter but they never really looked back after the in-form Ollie Kidd put them in front in the 20th minute.

A phenomenal Daniel Nelson doubled up before half-time and they soon raced away in the second half with the eldest Nelson brother getting his second. Andy Edgar made it a personal three goals in three games from the penalty spot and he duly added another via the same method for 5-0.

Matthew Nelson and Matthew McKibbin both chipped in before Julian Dale got a consolation goal for the Dubliners who remain in the relegation zone as a result.

Three Rock Rovers 3 (A Haughton 2, E Jennings) Corinthian 2 (I Stewart 2)
Three Rock Rovers nicked all the points from a feisty Dublin 16 derby, Evan Jennings scoring the crucial goal with nine minutes to go despite his side being down to nine players at the time.

Three Rock got off to a strong start with Ali Haughton scoring twice in the first 10 minutes; his first followed a right-wing attack that broke to him at the left post where he controlled and flicked in.

His second was an outrageous effort, a ball deflecting his way at pace and two feet off the ground; he swung on his backhand and caught it perfectly, leaving goalkeeper Simon Thornton standing.

Corinthian got back into the game from a smart quick free, Andrew Sutton finding Peter Caruth in the D and he laid off a pass to Ian Stewart for a simple finish.

Haughton went close to a hat trick from another volley, Thornton saving well. Ben Whelan did likewise at the far end with a brilliant stick stop early in the second half but Stewart did make it 2-2 with a virtuoso piece of work, catching a loose ball, beating a player and then chipping into the top corner.

Rovers went into foul trouble in the second half, picking up three yellows but still had slightly the better of the chances in the closing quarter. Jennings took the crucial one, cleaning up after Ross Canning’s shot was parried his way. The reds had a last second corner which Caruth slapped at goal but Harry McMahon guided it around the post to ensure a scrappy three points.

YMCA 3 (A Walker, G Glutz, A Meates) UCD 2 (S Byrne, K O’Dea)
YMCA took another big step toward both an EY Champions Trophy spot and confirmed safety in the EYHL for next season with their win over UCD.

The students did go in front early on when good pressure led to a goal from Sam Byrne, tapping in at the back post and they had a couple of corners to extend the lead in a lively opening spell, drawing good stops from Jakim Bernsden.

The Y, though, were also notching up the chances with Ben Campbell hitting the post in the first quarter before Adam Walker’s corner made it 1-1 from a corner flick. Grant Glutz added the next from a penalty stroke and they had a further effort ruled out just before half-time following a much more controlled spell.

Andrew Meates stretched the lead out to 3-1 in the 43rd minute from play despite UCD pressure until the very last minute when Kevin O’Dea scored a final hooter corner goal.

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Catholic Institute close the gap to Pembroke to two points

Day 14 match reports

Catholic Institute 1 (N Carroll) Pegasus 0 

Catholic Institute continued their winning streak with Naomi Carroll’s single goal making it six wins in succession, putting them within two points of leaders Pembroke, now with a game in hand. 

It was different from many of their recent swashbuckling wins as they had to withhold a second half onslaught as Pegasus threw everything forward but could not find the crucial touch.  

Early on, Carroll’s reverse went close in the opening moments, going across the face of goal. Lucy McKee did likewise from a swift overload move down the right wing for Pegs 

The Ulster side did have the ball in the net from their second corner, albeit via Alex Speers’ foot from Shirley McCay’s slap.  

That was before the game’s defining moment when Hannah Kelly blocked a clearance in the Pegasus circle and retrieved the ball, pulling the ball back to Róisín Upton who found Carroll on the right post to pop in. 

Corner drags from Anna Horan and Upton were kept out in the third quarter while Kelly’s lengthy run almost created a second. But Pegasus were building pressure with Niamh McIvor denied by an excellent Pam Smithwick stop while the corner count built to five with the pick of the chances falling to McKee but it was skewed wide. 

Insta were almost able to breathe a bit easier when Pegs swapped out their goalkeeper for an extra outfielder but Carroll was unable to cash in on an opportunity. 

 

Pembroke 0 Railway Union 0 

Pembroke were left frustrated as the base of the post denied a final quarter penalty stroke as the table-toppers drew for the third time in four outings as they shared a scoreless draw with near neighbours Railway Union. 

Railway started the better and had good chances when Alex Gallagher found Sarah Patton but Emma Buckley saved her flick well. Eanna Horan went close with Pembroke’s big chance of the first quarter. 

The second quarter was tight with Pembroke starting it strong while Riona Norton produced an excellent double-save, denying Sinead Loughran’s shot on the spin and Aisling Naughton’s follow-up. 

In the second half, the main chances came from set pieces with two Pembroke corners drawing no real danger while Niamh Shaw’s slap was well blocked by Buckley. 

The big moment caem from Pembroke’s third corner when stopper Ellen Curran’s shot was deemed to be blocked by a foot in line with the goal. Pinder stepped up and sent Norton the wrong way but her stroke hit the post. 

In the closing phases, Shaw hit Railway’s third corner just wide, Pinder went close while Naughton’s through ball for Sally Campbell was dangerous but the following shot went wide. 

 

Old Alexandra 3 (N Sweeney, E Russell, A Russell) Muckross 2 (S Quill, J Balcerzak) 

Old Alex continued their good form as they made it 10 points from the last 12 available as three goals in the first 21 minutes put them on course for victory despite a big second half Muckross comeback. 

Alex built a 3-0 half-time lead as they took their chances well. The first came after Muckross never fully got set from a swift counter, set in motion by Lena Tice. Abbie Russell’s slap at goal was well blocked but Niamh Sweeney followed up with a piledriver for 1-0. 

It was 2-0 in Q2 from the first corner of the game; Mikayla Power had two shots, the latter of which bounced to Emma Russell to sweep in from the injector area. And it was three in the 21st minute when the ball broke to Abbie Russell on the back post and she unleashed a reverse-stick shot. 

Muckross were highly competitive, throughout the half, matching Alex’s corner count while a one-on-one chance showed their threat. 

And that threat materialised into goals in the second half as Sarah Quill pulled one back and then Julia Balcerzak’s direct penalty corner sweep cut the gap to the minimum. But Alex help for an important point which keeps them in the chase for a top two spot and direct qualification for the EY Champions Trophy semi-finals. 

Pembroke’s Gillian Pinder. Picture: Max Fulham

 

Belfast Harlequins 0 Loreto 2 (S Torrans, Y Pratt) 

Loreto made it three wins in a row to move up to fourth place in the table as they won at Deramore Park with a goal in each half of a tight-knit fixture. 

Chances were at a premium as Belfast Harlequins defended well while the visitors had more of the possession. The main chances came from corners with Loreto going in front in Q2 from their fourth one of the game, Hannah Matthews switching back to injector Sarah Torrans who swept in first time. 

Prior to that, goalkeeper Suzie Taylor – on her birthday – impressed with some solid blocks while Katie Larmour and Jan Kilpatrick’s driving runs were a feature for Quins. 

The second half was largely played between the 23-metre lines with Aoife Taaffe’s drag-flick the main opening for either side. 

The result was settled in the last five minute when Matthews’ long overhead set Loreto up with an overload on the right channel which was worked inside to Yasmin Pratt who dodged out of a tackle and then wedged the ball over the outrushing Taylor. 

 

UCD 4 (M Carey, R Kelly, K Egan, H McLoughlin) Cork Harlequins 1 (A Power) 

UCD moved back into the top six as they came back from a goal down to defeat Cork Harlequins 4-1 at Belfield.  

The students got off to a slow start as Quins made the early moves. In the ninth minute, Michelle Barry set UCD back-pedaling with a direct run before laying off for Aine Power who shot early on her backhand and it made it into the goal from the left of the D. 

A corner shot from Cliodhna Sargent caused some ping-pong panic in the home circle soon after before UCD began to find their flow. Katherine Egan was a pivotal figure and she created the first with a sharp turn and backhand cross which made its way to Michelle Carey to tip in at the left post. 

That made it 1-1 at half-time as the Cork side were able to keep out three corners but they could not keep out another powerful Egan reverse in Q3 to put the hosts ahead for the first time. 

While they had the majority of the pressure, the game was only fully killed off in the closing quarter. Carey created the third goal with some beautiful 3D skills from a sideline ball close to the baseline which was eventually worked to Rachel Kelly for a simple finish.  

Sargent departed in the last few minutes with a nasty injury and Hannah McLoughlin closed out the scoring on the final hooter with a corner drag-flick. 

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EYHL’s big decisions coming into focus on all fronts

A bumper 12 EY Hockey League top tier games and four vital EYHL2 fixtures makes for another exciting weekend as the formal prizes come ever closer into view.

After six rounds of hot potato, Lisnagarvey will hope to be the first side since November to hold onto the leadership of the men’s EY Hockey League.

Their win last Saturday over Three Rock Rovers provided a significant statement of intent and the expectation, on paper, is they would back it up against ninth placed Pembroke at home.

But the Dublin 4 side have already beaten third placed Glenanne in 2022 while Alan Sothern has come back after injury to score six times in two games.

It is their travails at the far end that has left them vulnerable, conceding on average almost four a game. Garvey were shy the services of international star Ben Nelson last week but his older brothers Matthew and Daniel bring further firepower while Ollie Kidd is maturing at serious pace.

Three Rock host Corinthian in the Marlay derby with the former dropping back off first last week after some rejigging of their forward line-up.

Corinthian have had a bit of a mixed bag of late as coach Brinsley Powell settles into the role full-time having arrived in Ireland in January. They drew with a remarkable late salvo against Garvey before losing 6-1 at home to Monkstown

Glenanne, level with Three Rock, have a real test when they go to Banbridge who – like Monkstown – are making a strong charge for the top spots.

The Glens are another who have suffered with players away while Bann host this one off the back of eight games unbeaten while Louis Rowe looking like a prodigious talent in their forward line. The last loss, though, was against Glenanne in October.

At the bottom, there is a mathematical equation that could see UCD relegated by Saturday evening if everything conspires against them. Their only point to date came against YMCA and they will need to outdo that performance on Saturday at Wesley to keep hopes of a miraculous comeback alive.

For the Y, though, another victory would all but assure them safety, leaving Corinthian, Pembroke and Annadale in the scrap to avoid relegation.

Monkstown are up against Annadale – the Ulster side produced an incredible comeback in their first meeting this season having trailed 3-0 to tie 3-3. Town have started 2022 well, winning three in a row, scoring 14 times in the process.

On the women’s side, it is a massive weekend with seven EYHL fixtures potentially set to have a big impact on the destination of the league title and the playoff places.

In some ways, Railway Union could be the swing-vote. They face the two main challengers, Pembroke on Saturday and then second placed Catholic Institute on Sunday.

For the Park Avenue outfit, it has been a hectic recent schedule with European indoors followed by a large tranche of their players being involved in the indoor series between Ireland and South Africa.

Pembroke re-established a four-point lead last Sunday with a narrow 2-1 success at Cork Harlequins, breaking a run of two successive draws that had seen their lead cut back briefly to the minimum.

Insta have been on a stunning run, scoring 27 times in five successive wins but this weekend is probably their biggest test. Saturday sees them welcome Pegasus – fourth place after back-to-back defeats – before that Railway tie in Dublin at 5pm on Sunday evening.

Third place Old Alex have a busy weekend, too, starting off against Muckross on Saturday before going north to Pegasus on Sunday. The MIlltown club have lost just once in their last nine games to stay very much in the frame in case of slips from the sides above them.

There remains a serious battle between Loreto (fifth), Railway (sixth) and UCD (seventh) to secure the quarter-final playoff places. For Loreto, they are up against Belfast Harlequins while UCD host Cork Harlequins needing results to stay in contention for a top six finish.

In EYHL2 Group 2, Monkstown became the first side mathematically guaranteed a playoff place last week when they ran up an 8-1 win at Garryduff against Cork C of I with Anna O’Flanagan scoring a hat trick.

Should they win at home against NUIG, the likelihood is they will add the automatic semi-final berth in the playoffs with a couple of games still to play.

Ards’ Zara Malseed lines up a shot against Corinthian. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Lurgan against C of I looks to be the key game in the playoff chase as third place faces fourth, the former leading the latter by two points.

In Group 1, Ards are on the brink of formalising some sort of a promotion playoff spot thanks to their 3-1 win over Corinthian last Saturday with Amy Benson netting twice and Ellen Robinson getting in on the act.

That gives them a five-point lead in Group 1 over the reds and they will be going all out now to top the table and go straight into the semi-final spots. They face third placed UCC who want to put some more distance between themselves and Trinity.

Corinthian will be hoping Ards slip in their closing games to open the door but they need to win their remaining ties, starting with away to Galway this weekend.

Elsewhere, the Irish Hockey Trophy sees Ashton make the long trip to Raphoe in their refixed semi-final.

Saturday 5th March 2022
Men
EYHL Division 1:
Banbridge v Glenanne, Havelock Park, 2.45pm; Lisnagarvey v Pembroke, Comber Road, 2pm; Monkstown v Annadale, Rathdown, 4pm; Three Rock Rovers v Corinthian, Grange Road, 12.30pm; YMCA v UCD, Wesley College, 4.45pm

Women
EYHL Division 1:
Belfast Harlequins v Loreto, Deramore Park, 2.30pm; Catholic Institute v Pegasus, Rosbrien, 1.30pm; Old Alexandra v Muckross, Milltown, 1.30pm; Pembroke Wanderers v Railway Union, Serpentine Avenue, 2.30pm; UCD v Cork Harlequins, Belfield, 1pm

EYHL Division 2 – Pool 1: Ards v UCC, Londonderry Park, 2.30pm; Galway v Corinthian, Dangan, 1pm
Pool 2: Lurgan v Cork C of I, Lurgan JHS, 1pm; Monkstown v NUIG, Rathdown, 2.10pm

Irish Hockey Trophy, semi-final: Raphoe v Ashton, Royal and Prior, 1pm

Sunday 6th March 2022
Women
EYHL Division 1:
Pegasus v Old Alex, Malone Playing Fields, 1pm; Railway Union v Catholic Institute, Park Avenue, 5pm