Pegasus move clear at top of women’s EYHL after thrilling win over Catholic Institute

Women’s EY Hockey League – day five round-up
Pegasus 2 (L McKee, S McCay) Catholic Institute 1 (N Carroll)

Shirley McCay’s late winner sealed Pegasus a hard fought 2-1 victory over Catholic Institute which saw the Belfast side move a point clear at the top of the EYHL standings.

It was a thrilling encounter at the Dub and evenly contested for most of the game after Pegasus had been on top in the opening quarter.

But Pegasus owed a debt of gratitude to goalkeeper Megan Todd who brought off two outstanding saves on either side of McCay’s 56th minute winner.

The hosts had the edge in the opening quarter without being able to capitalise on three penalty corners.

From then on it was end-to-end stuff and Hannah Kelly shot narrowly wide before Naomi Carroll’s effort struck the post after a swift counter instigated by Leah Clery.

Pegasus broke the deadlock in the 31st minute when Lucy McKee scored with a first time shot after a lovely passing move down the left flank.

Pegasus celebrate Shirley McCay’s winning goal. Picture: Billy Pollock

Laura Foley went close to levelling for the Limerick side a minute later after a swift move which saw team captain and Ireland star Roisin Upton feed Eimear Ryan to set up the chance but Todd made a great save.

But she was beaten when Carroll equalised in the 42nd minute with a carbon copy of the Pegasus opener, the Olympian firing home from close range after a good move down the left in which Kelly was prominent.

Carroll almost made it 2-1 in the 51st minute from a set-piece switch but Todd was equal to the task in the final play of the third quarter.

Ireland’s most-capped player McCay blasted in what turned out to be the decisive goal in the first minute of the final quarter, slapping the ball low into the net from her team’s fifth penalty corner.

Sixty seconds later, Todd again excelled herself with a fine stop after Foley had controlled the ball at the edge of the D before firing in a powerful backhand shot.

The game continued to swing from end-to-end but Pegasus held on, Lucy McKee displaying some fine ball retention in the left-hand corner to wind the clock down to bring the conclusion to a memorable tussle which was a credit to both teams.

Railway Union 0 Pembroke 1 (G Pinder)

Gillian Pinder’s third quarter goal got Pembroke back to winning ways and within one point of leaders Pegasus thanks to their narrow win over Sandymount rivals Railway Union.

The tie opened up with end-to-end hockey with lots of opportunities. Railway had a promising effort with a ball played from Jenny Long into an open Katie Fearon who shot just wide of the far post. Shortly after, Pembroke overturned Railway outlet and Sally Campbell struck a reverse, floating over the goal
Fearon went close on the reverse after good build-up play from Ali O’Leary while both sides had corner chances repelled.

Into the second quarter, Emily Beatty drew a confident clearance from Riona Norton as defences – aided by some super tackling – were on top into half-time.

The key moment came early in Q3 when Pinder intercepted a Railway pass between wing back and centre back at the half way line.

This led to a foot race with pacey Pinder netting under the outcoming keeper Norton. Pembroke looked poised and in control for much of Q3, steadying the game.

In the final quarter, Sarah Hawkshaw created lots of danger with her direct dribbling at the intensity increased and both sides dropped to 10 players at a time.
Kate Lloyd was denied by the impressive Emma Buckley on her backhand while while a corner chance went through their grasp in rousing finish with Railway on the front foot.

Catholic Institute’s Naomi Carroll scores an equaliser. Picture: Billy Pollock

Loreto 4 (A Taaffe 2, N Torrans, C Hamill) Belfast Harlequins 1 (J Watt)
Loreto extended their unbeaten run to four games with a comfortable 4-1 win over Belfast Harlequins at Beaufort. Aoife Taaffe’s strong finish and a first of the season from Nicola Torrans put them two clear at the end of the first quarter.

Taaffe added another for her fourth goal of the campaign before half-time and they never looked likely to let that lead slip. Chirstina Hamill made a wealth of fourth quarter pressure count for 4-0 before Jenna Watt got one back from a penalty corner deflection move with three minutes to go.

Muckross 0 Old Alexandra 1 (D Duke)

Deirdre Duke’s first goal of the season from Old Alex’s second corner of the game was the difference as the Milltown club move into a share second spot after five rounds of matches.

It followed a lively start with chances at each end with close shaves aplenty. Aoife Glennon produced an excellent save to keep out Alex’s first corner but Alex prevailed from the follow-up with Duke – who is working her way back after injury – getting the all-important touch.

It was breathless stuff with momentum ebbing and flowing with both sides enjoying spells of greater pressure. Both also had a number of corner chances but no further one could be taken and so Alex prevailed by the single goal. It lifts them to 10 points, equal with Pembroke and UCD and one point behind Pegasus.

Cork Harlequins 0 UCD 9 (H McLoughlin 4, S Thomas 2, N Carey, K Egan, R Kelly)
UCD were convincing winners against Cork Harlequins at a sun-drenched Farmers Cross. The first half was a closely fought affair with both teams playing flowing hockey; Harlequins were unlucky not to take the lead as a Michelle Barry deflection from a short corner went narrowly wide.

In the last minute of the first half, UCD made the breakthrough that changed the momentum of the tie. Following good work along the baseline, a cross found Niamh Carey unmarked at the back post, she made no mistake to give College the lead.

From the restart, UCD went on the attack and a shot from the top of the circle was prevented from entering the net by back-stick. Hannah McLoughlin slotted the resulting stroke to leave UCD 2-0 up at half-time.

The strong tackling and excellent work-rate prevented Harlequins regaining a foothold in the game. With confident passing and good execution on short corners, UCD ran out deserving 9-0 winners – McLoughlin adding three goals to her earlier stroke with Sophie Thomas, Katherine Egan and Rachel Kelly on the mark, too.