By Stephen Findlater
Pembroke and Old Alex are the new leaders of the women’s EY Hockey League after the former defeated previous pace-setters Pegasus on a thrilling Saturday of action.
It was a series of four matches brought forward from December due to Ireland’s late entry into the women’s Junior World Cup and provided plenty of thrills.
Pembroke’s 2-1 success showcased why they are serious contenders for the title having never previously reached the EYHL top four playoffs. The first goal was a thing of beauty, Ellen Curran getting on the end of a pitch-length attack before Aisling Naughton cracked in number two. Kerri Magee pulled one back but Pegasus could not change the direction of the points.
Old Alex overcame a first minute concession to beat Belfast Harlequins 5-1 with goals from Sarah Robinson, Nikki Evans, Abbie Russell, Mikayla Power and Deirdre Duke.
It lifts the two Dublin clubs to 16 points from seven games with Pegasus on 14 where they have been joined by Catholic Institute who produced an outstanding comeback to beat UCD 3-2.
Rachel Kelly and Michelle Carey had seemingly put UCD in a powerful position at 2-0 but Róisín Upton scored three times between the 47th and 59th minute to swing the game the Limerick side’s way.
Railway Union and Loreto, meanwhile, drew for the third time this season with first quarter goals from Orla Patton and Christina Hamill making it 1-1. The result sees both lose touch with the top four but with chances to get back on the winning trail next week when they face sides in the lower reaches of the table.
Women’s EYHL Division 1 – day seven results: Old Alex 5 (S Robinson, N Evans, M Power, A Russell, D Duke) Belfast Harlequins 1 (J Kilpatrick); Pembroke Wanderers 2 (E Curran, A Naughton) Pegasus 1 (K Magee); Railway Union 1 (O Patton) Loreto 1 (C Hamill); UCD 2 (R Kelly, M Carey) Catholic Institute 3 (R Upton 3)
Day seven – round-up
Railway Union 1 (O Patton) Loreto 1 (C Hamill)
Railway Union and Loreto were inseparable in normal time for a third time this season as first quarter goals from Christina Hamill and Orla Patton meant honours even at Park Avenue.
The visitors went in front when Yasmin Pratt went on a lengthy run down the left and and shoveled across for Hamill to sweep home. Railway replied quickly with Kate Dillon deflecting over just before Patton equalised in the 10th minute when Holly Jenkinson lined up a nice angle for the former UCD player to deflect in.
After that, it was very tight. Riona Norton made a strong block from the lively Pratt while Kate Lloyd’s reverse was well blocked by Liz Murphy. She also palmed away a Sarah Patton drag-flick to keep it at 1-1 at half-time.
Loreto had a couple of good chances in the third quarter with Sarah Evans’ shot touched over by Norton while a smart corner move from Aoife Taaffe was guided just wide by a sliding deflector.
From Railway’s third corner, another Jenkinson angled shot was read well by Hannah Matthews on the left post to avert the danger and that was the last big chance.
Pembroke Wanderers 2 (E Curran, A Naughton) Pegasus 1 (K Magee)
Pembroke produced a brilliant home performance to leap-frog Pegasus and into a share of first place thanks to cracking goals from Ellen Curran and Aisling Naughton.
Pegasus – who were without Shirley McCay – had the first major chance when Katie McKee’s corner slap from the left of the circle was saved off the line by Hayley O’Donnell.
After that, the Ulster side’s goal led a charmed life as Tori Wensley almost cashed in from chaos in the circle from a miscontrolled ball around the back. A corner followed up from which Leah McGuire – who was exceptional between defence and midfield – flicked onto the inside of the post and eventually to safety.
The first goal came on the half hour and was an outstanding pitch-length more. McGuire flipped the ball out to Curran on the 23-metre line. She got the ball on to Amy-Kate Trevor who worked it on to Gillian Pinder with space to attack; she did just that and clipped into the middle where Curran led a queue of three players lining up to get the tip in.
Into Q3, Naughton’s brilliant backhand shot hit the inside of the post again and somehow stayed out. But one did become two when McGuire’s long pump was not dealt with; Emily Beatty helped it on to Naughton who cracked home on her backhand first time.
The game remained live, though, as Kerri Magee swept in a penalty corner, cutting the gap to 2-1. And they had their moments in the fourth quarter with Taite Doherty not quite getting the full connection in a circle melee while Magee’s corner shot was blocked by O’Donnell on the left post yet again.
Old Alex 5 (S Robinson, N Evans, M Power, A Russell, D Duke) Belfast Harlequins 1 (J Kilpatrick)
Old Alex overcame a first minute concession to beat Belfast Harlequins for the second time this season and move into a share of top spot of the women’s EY Hockey League.
Quins started the better with recent Irish debutante Jane Kilpatrick scoring from a corner in the early phases. Alex had the majority share of possession from then on and got the equaliser in the sixth minute from a PC rebound scored by Sarah Robinson.
Six minutes into the second quarter, the Milltown side got just reward for their play with a reverse strike by Nikki Evans from a very tight angle to go in at half time 2-1 up.
Mikayla Power added a third goal in the 3rd quarter, roofing her shot home from a reverse. Abbie Russell weighed in with the next after great forward pressure with the forward reacting quickest to a loose ball, spinning towards goal and crashed the ball off the backboard.
Harlequins fought hard and had chances to close the gap only to be denied by some fine work from Caroline Nugent, particularly when she came off her line to make a sliding save.
The final goal was scored by Deirdre Duke who picked up the ball with her back to goal from a Lena Tice pass and squeezed the ball home on her reverse.
UCD 2 (R Kelly, M Carey) Catholic Institute 3 (R Upton 3)
Róisín Upton’s hat trick saw Catholic Institute produce an outstanding comeback from 2-0 down to beat UCD and move into a share of third place – three points off top spot – after seven rounds of action.
Rachel Kelly – playing against her twin sister Hannah’s new club – scored from a very fast counter-attack in the 10th minute for UCD in a lively opening with chances at both ends. They drew the best of Pam Smithwick, too, early in the second quarter before the Limerick side grew more comfortable on the water turf, though the hosts did finish the half strong.
Michelle Carey doubled the students’ lead three minutes into the second half with a back post deflection for what looked an imposing lead.
It remained that way until 23 minutes from the end when sustained pressure led to a corner which Upton put away to gain a lifeline. Within five minutes, it was level with Christine O’Shea earning a corner which Upton used to level matters at 2-2.
And Upton had her third of the day when a great team move ended with yet another set piece which Upton put away. UCD replied with Niamh Carey going close with five minutes to go from a one-on-one chance but Insta prevailed for a famous win.
Caption: Pembroke’s Ellen Curran celebrates her goal in their win over Pegasus last weekend. Photo: Adrian Boehm
Three Rock Rovers fall to Lisnagarvey
Lisnagarvey came from behind to defeat Dublin side Three Rock Rovers 3-2 at Comber Road in the sole game to be played this weeked in the men’s EY Hockey League with the hosts moving top of the standings.
It was a closely fought encounter with two goals for the hosts on either side of the third quarter break proving decisive. Rovers pulled a goal back with just over six minutes left but were unable to find an equaliser.
The Rathfarnham side went ahead from their first circle entry on nine minutes, but the visitors levelled soon after and kicked on to take the points.
Garvey levelled matters seven minutes later when Ryan Getty’s cross from the left was met by Ben Nelson who finished high into the net from close range.
After a relatively featureless second quarter, James Corry shot wide from a penalty corner and then Rovers keeper Ben Whelan saved at full-strength from Ben Nelson’s powerful effort from the edge of the D.
On 51 minutes, it was 2-1 to the Hillsborough side, Peter McKibbin scoring from the penalty spot after Corry’s set-piece shot had struck a defender’s foot.
Eight minutes into the final quarter, James Lorimer rifled home a penalty corner to make it 3-1.
Rovers reduced the deficit when Spencer got his second from close range from a rebound off James Milliken’s pads but it was too little, too late.