Pembroke in seventh heaven with key women’s EYHL victory

Women’s EY Hockey League – day 11 round-up

Catholic Institute 3 (R Upton, H Kelly, E Ryan) Old Alex 1 (D Duke)

Catholic Institute maintained their place in second with another significant win in their pursuit of an EY Champions Trophy place as they saw off Old Alex who started the day in third.

Alex did start in roaring fashion, forcing a goal line save from Roisin Upton while Deirdre Duke also drew a good stop from former Old Alex keeper Pamela Smithwick, keeping it 0-0 in Q1.

Q2 began with Upton going to the sin-bin on a green card but immediately on her return, she ran straight into the circle, met Naomi Carroll’s pass, stopped and slotted into the top left corner.

The Dubliners were level within two minutes with a quick free finding Duke in a good shooting position and she found the bottom corner. Parity, though, only lasted just over a minute as Hannah Kelly slapped in from the second phase of a corner to make it 2-1, a lead they held until half-time.

Eimear Ryan had to save another off the Insta line and a couple of Alex corners in another strong start to a period from the visitors but the Limerick side started to get more on the ball with Carroll to the fore. 

And the third goal arrived from an impressive move, Christine O’Shea finding Aoife Hickey who sent the ball square to Ryan who pulled on a first time rocket, 3-1. The visitors attacked in waves in the fourth quarter but that momentum was slowed when Lena Tice was shown a yellow card and Insta stayed clear for another important win.

Loreto 1 (S O’Brien) Pembroke 2 (A Naughton, L McGuire)

Pembroke overcame a tough hurdle to land their seventh win in succession in the women’s EY Hockey League to maintain their five-point lead at the top.

Loreto had beaten Pembroke 6-1 in the Jacqui Potter Cup just a few weeks ago and they took confidence into the early stages with Hannah Matthews’ corner shot and Yasmin Pratt going close.

They took the lead when Siofra O’Brien burst through the centre of the circle and turned the ball home with an upright reverse-stick shot, Pembroke’s calls for an earlier foot falling on deaf ears.

In response, Pembroke earned four corners but could not find a way past Liz Murphy until the 30th minute. Tori Wensley had two bites from the right of the D, her first shot coming back her way and her second landing at Aisling Naughton on the back post for a simple finish.

Pembroke’s Aisling Naughton celebrates with Rachel O’Brien and Martha McCready. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Six minutes into the second half, Pembroke took the lead from another corner, Leah McGuire taking her time before smashing home as Loreto’s corner defence only went halfway to shut down the shot.  

Loreto fought back, creating a string of chances in the aftermath with Matthews slapping a shot inches wide; O’Brien took in a loose overhead on the edge of the circle but could not get a clean shot off while Lisa Mulcahy also went close.

Pembroke steadied, though, and they were the side who went closest to adding the scoring in the final quarter, Sinead Loughran inches from a spectacular third as she slid full length to deflect the ball onto the bar.

Railway Union 3 (S Rooney, S Hawkshaw, Z Delany) Cork Harlequins 0

Railway Union moved into the top four with a healthy win over Cork Harlequins at Park Avenue. They started well, dominating the first quarter and going two goals up. 

The first was a break instigated by Zara Delany who passed to Sarah Rooney – making her EYHL debut for Railway along with sister Hannah – who slotted home. The second came from a corner; Holly Jenkinson’s sweep was saved by Lorna Bateman in the Quins goal but Railway captain Sarah Hawkshaw made no mistake with the rebound. 

While the hosts dominated possession in the 2nd quarter they failed to finish the moves, with the Cork visitors defending well and making a few forays forward.

The third quarter continued in similar vein with Railway getting their third goal, Zara Delany poking the ball in after a good cross in by Hawkshaw. Bateman in the Quins goal made a number of good saves from sisters Kate and Lily Lloyd to keep the score at three. 

The final quarter was a more even affair with Cliodhna Sargeant and Yvonne O’Byrne pushing forward for Cork Harlequins while Beth-Anne O’Farrell and Ruby Walsh were showing good skills up front. However, neither team could find the net and the score remained 3-0.

Belfast Harlequins 0 Pegasus 3 (S McCay, A Speers, T Doherty)

Pegasus won the Ulster derby to kickstart their new year push for EY Hockey League laurels, getting the best of Belfast Harlequins 3-0 at a blustery Deramore Park. Shirley McCay and Alex Speers brought their wealth of experience to bear, netting their first two goals before Taite Doherty completed the scoring.

It was a really exciting encounter with end to end hockey although Harlequins will rue not having at least one goal from good pressure and two penalty corners in the first quarter.  The second quarter saw Pegasus pressurise more consistently which brought some great goalkeeping from Suzie Taylor and an eventual corner which led to a stroke from a foot on the goal line. McCay  powered the ball high just out of the keeper’s reach to leave Pegasus 1-0 up at half time.

Railway Union’s Kate Lloyd crosses. Pic: Max Fulham

It was more of the same in the second half with both teams hitting the attacking circle. Pegasus’ Alex Speers had a simple tap-in from some clever work along the back line by Lucy McKee. 

Quins had their chances to bring one back and set up an exciting finish and even after Pegasus found the net again through Taite Doherty, Harlequins forced a corner and some strong circle play but were ultimately frustrated not to convert from their chances. Therein lies the difference but definitely an entertaining game and a good example of top level hockey.

UCD 3 (K Egan 2, S McAuley) Muckross 1 (K Fitzgerald)

The league’s top scorers UCD came back from a goal down to defeat Muckross and move into the last of the playoff places after their 10th match of the season. Katie Fitzgerald put the visitors into the lead just before the end of the first quarter.

But Katherine Egan celebrated her international call up with an equaliser in the second quarter and it was 2-1 by half-time courtesy of Sarah McAuley. Egan settled the tie in the 50th minute with her second of the game.