UCD and Banbridge crowned champions!
EYHL WOMEN’S DIVISION
There were two midweek games this week the outcomes of which would have a crucial impact on which two of three teams would clinch the final play off berths in the Champions Trophy.
Pegasus took on Belfast Harlequins on Wednesday night at Queens University. Kerri Magee put the home side 1-0 up on 5 minutes and Rachael Murdock added a second before half time, sealing a victory which put Pegasus, now three points clear of Pembroke Wanderers, in fifth place.
On Thursday night sixth placed Pembroke Wanderers travelled to take on seventh placed Railway Union at Park Avenue and a win for either side might have secured a play off berth.
A close derby ensued where neither side converted their opportunities to leave the full time result a 0-0 draw. Pembroke thus closed the gap to two points with fifth placed Pegasus. The draw also meant that Railway Union, even if they won on Saturday against Belfast Harlequins, would be relying on Loreto to win to secure a Champions Trophy play off spot. Loreto for their part were only one win away from securing the League title and needed no other motivation to go all out for victory. Pembroke Wanderers also needed a win to gain that final play off spot in the Champions Trophy. That result coupled with an away win for UCD could change the destination of the League trophy and it to Belfield instead. So there were a lot of possible permutations from the 18th and final round of action of the EYHL Women’s Division for season 2022-23.
The Pegasus UCD game started late due to the EYHL2 quarter-final between Queen’s University and UCC going to shuttles. Pembroke Wanderers though went into this game knowing nothing short of a victory would do .
Earlier Railway Union made a brave attempt to qualify for the play-offs by thrashing already relegated Belfast Harlequins by 7-1. Katie Lloyd scored three times, her sister Lily Lloyd weighted in with a goal as did Niamh Shaw, Edel Hyland and Sarah Hawkshaw. Katie Larmour got the consolation goal for Belfast Harlequins. Anything less than a Pembroke Wanderers win would see Railway Union sneak into the play offs at the last minute.
The Pembroke Wanderers and Loreto game proved to be a very tight affair . Only two penalty corners in the opening quarter Caitlin Sherin’s shot getting deflected for a non productive long corner and Pembroke’s effort which was the last action of the first quarter being equally fruitless. The best chance of the second quarter fell to Rebekah Fitzpatrick whose effort for Loreto was saved by Aoife Glennon.
It remained scoreless at the break Pembroke Wanderers 0-0 Loreto. Meanwhile up in Belfast , Katie Jane Marshall had given UCD the lead and the half time score there was Pegasus 0 -1 UCD. Advantage to the students.
In the third quarter at Serpentine Avenue Pembroke Wanderers and Loreto exchanged shots fired in the early stages first up Emily Beatty shot wide for the hosts Pembroke Wanderers. Loreto responded through Christina Hamill whose cross cum shot whizzed past the face of the goal needing only the feintest of touches to go in. A Loreto penalty corner hit Pembroke’s Orla Macken and there was a brief stoppage as she required treatment. Sarah Torrans teed up Rebekah Fitzpatrick but she couldn’t put it past Aoife Glennon in the Pembroke goal. Aoife Glennon also denied Rachel Kelly with a key save meaning it remained scoreless at Pembroke Wanderers at the end of quarter three.
Meanwhile back at Queen’s University, Katie Jane Marshall got her second goal of the game to increase UCD’s lead 2-0 to the students .
In the final quarter at Serpentine Avenue, Hannah Matthews penalty corner for Loreto found Christina Hamill whose effort was blocked at the expense of a long corner.
Loreto decided to remove their goalkeeper in favour of an additional outfield player and conceded a penalty corner almost straightaway. Orla Macken scored from the penalty corner to give Pembroke Wanderers the lead with minutes remaining, Leah Maguire blocked another effort from Loreto and had to go off injured but her sacrifice was worth it as their 1-0 victory secured a EYHL Champions trophy play off berth and the perfect boost for them ahead of their EHL challenge in Amsterdam over the weekend.
Because of the delay of the start of the Pegasus -UCD match Loreto had to wait to confirm their fate when the news came through that UCD had won 3-0 , the final goal coming from Sarah McAuley and were the Champions for 2022- 23 in the EYHL Women’s Division.
The final relegation issue was decided at Rathdown school where Monkstown and Catholic Institute played out a 2-2 draw. Naomi Carroll and Roisín Upton on the mark for the visitors and Sophie Moore and Millie Jerman responding for the hosts. This point secured Monkstown’s place in the EYHL Women’s Division for season 2023-24.
EYHL MEN’S DIVISION
Just as in the Women’s Division, this Division was delicately poised going into the final round of EYHL Men’s Division’s matches.
For Banbridge it was straightforward a win away to Glenanne and they would be crowned champions. Glenanne away however not an easy task . Second placed Lisnagarvey, two points behind , needed to beat visitors third placed Three Rock Rovers at home and then hope for a favour from Glenanne in the form of a win over Banbridge.
YMCA in fifth had secured their place in the EYHL Champions Trophy playoffs however the sixth and final place was technically up for grabs. Monkstown in sixth were only two points clear of Annadale. If Monkstown failed to pick up any points away to already relegated Cookstown, Annadale could sneak into the play-offs with a win over already relegated Pembroke Wanderers. Given Cookstown had failed to win a game all season that prospect might have seemed unlikely but how many times have teams who are already relegated with the pressure off managed to finish with a final flourish? Surprisingly often in team sports and hockey is no different in that regard.
Banbridge in the end won this game emphatically to seal the EYHL Men’s Division Championship on a 6-2 scoreline at St. Andrew’s College.
Cookstown finished their season by hosting Monkstown and the visitors came away with all three points in a 2-0 victory with Rory Nichols sealing the victory.
Lisnagarvey were making what ultimately proved a vain effort to secure the league when Three Rock Rovers arrived at Comber Road. Ben Johnston was on the mark twice for Three Rock Rovers and Ollie Kidd and Mackenzie Connor got on the scoresheet. As things transpired it wouldn’t have matter given Banbridge’s victory.
YMCA secured third place in the table thanks to a 7-2 win over Instonians at Wesley College. Adam Walker opened the scoring for YMCA and then Tevin Kok and Ross Henderson weighed in with two goals apiece there were also goals for Grant Glutz and Ian Perrot. Palmer and Stephen Kelso responded for the visitors. In the remaining game between Annadale and already relegated Pembroke Wanderers it resulted in a 7-1 win for the hosts .
MEN’S EYHL 2 QUARTER-FINAL S
Bandon took on Cork Church of Ireland in a regional derby. Denis Pritchard’s side had finished runner up to UCD in EYHL Pool B while Cork Church Of Ireland had secured their quarter-final berth coming third in Pool A behind Corinthians and Railway Union. After 70 minutes of play it was 2-2 and the game had to be settled by shuttles. Bandon advanced to the semi-final having won the shoot out by 4-2.
In the other quarter final it was a Dublin derby between Leinster Division 1 A rivals Avoca and Railway Union at Park Avenue.
Railway Union came second in Pool A while Avoca qualified for their quarter-final finishing in third place in Pool B. To add spice to the tie, Railway Union currently are in second place in Leinster Men’s Division 1A and Avoca are in fourth behind UCD in third with one round left to play. Avoca raced into a three goal lead through Andrew Ramsay, Andrew Tutty and Oisin O’Sullivan.
Railway began their comeback through Darragh Curley and two Mark English goals to leave it 3-3 going into the final quarter. Oisin O’Sullivan completed his hat-trick to give Avoca a 4-3 lead and Mark English completed his hat-trick to restore parity for Railway Union and make it 4-4. Railway won on shuttles to reach the semi-finals.
WOMEN’S EYHL 2 QUARTER-FINALS
Queen’s University took on UCC at their sportsgrounds in Belfast and took the lead through Alyssa Jebb. UCC got back on level terms to leave the full time score 1-1. Queen’s won the subsequent shuttles 4-2.
In the other game a single goal by Yvonne O’Byrne for Cork Harlequins was enough to secure victory over Avoca and put the Munster women through to the semi-finals.
IRISH MEN’S JUNIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL
Cookstown’s seconds had a very straight forward task ahead of them a victory of their Ulster rivals Banbridge’s seconds and they would earn the right to play in the Irish Junior Cup Final. It was Banbridge who got through this semi final winning a seven goal thriller 4-3.