Muckross land big three points before Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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