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UCD top EYIHL table

Five sides remain covered by just three points at the top of the women’s EY Hockey League following a jam-packed double weekend of action with UCD returning to the top.

For UCD, they won Saturday’s crucial tie against Pegasus 2-0 with Bethany Barr and Abbie Russell scoring the goals – one in each half – to inflict the Ulster side’s first defeat of the campaign.

On Sunday, the Belfield club returned to the top of the table with an excellent second half performance securing a 3-1 win over Loreto with Irish internationals Lena Tice, Katie Mullan and Deirdre Duke all on the mark.

Cork Harlequins are a point back in second place following their four points out of six haul on the road. They started with a comfortable 4-0 win over Monkstown on Saturday before snatching a 3-3 draw at Belfast Harlequins courtesy of Roisin Upton’s late corner goal.

They were playing catch-up throughout the tie after two early Belfast goals from Jenny McAuley and Lizzie Colvin before Zoe Wilson made it 3-2 going into the closing stages. Stephen Dale’s side kept fighting with Upton netting her second of the day.

Pegasus are in third place as they bounced back from their Saturday defeat to nick a 3-2 win over Pembroke, Alex Speers scoring the winner. Katie McKee and Jilly Ringwood shared first half goals before Orla Macken put Pembroke in front. Hannah Grieve kick-started the Pegs comeback to set the base for Speers’ winner.

Ards are in share of third after their perfect weekend, recording two wins and two clean sheets. The first was a 2-0 win over Trinity with Chloe and Francesca Brown on the mark. On Sunday, Faye Kidd’s fourth minute goal set up a 1-0 win over Monkstown who remain in search of their first point.

Railway moved up a place as they scored four points and kept their unbeaten run rolling. They started with a 3-2 win in a thriller against Belfast Harlequins, Kate Lloyd’s double the key intervention. They trailed twice against Trinity but recovered to draw 2-2.

Hannah Matthews’ pair of goal earned a dogged 2-1 win for Loreto over Pembroke on Saturday, scoring a corner and a stroke for their second win of the campaign.

Women’s EY Hockey League
Saturday: Ards 2 (C Brown, F Brown) Trinity 0; Loreto 2 (H Matthews 2) Pembroke 1 (J Ringwood); Monkstown 0 Cork Harlequins 4 (R Barry, E O’Leary, J O’Halloran, S Murphy); Railway Union 3 (K Lloyd 2, N Heisterkamp) Belfast Harlequins 2 (J Watt, Z Wilson); UCD 2 (B Barr, A Russell) Pegasus 0

Sunday: Belfast Harlequins 3 (J McAuley, L Colvin, Z Wilson) Cork Harlequins 3 (R Upton 2, C Perdue); Monkstown 0 Ards 1 (F Kidd); Pembroke 2 (J Ringwood, O Macken) Pegasus 3 (K McKee, H Grieve, A Speers); Railway Union 2 (O Fox, S Canning) Trinity 2 (N Sweeney, S Campbell); UCD 3 (L Tice, K Mullan, D Duke) Loreto 1 (S Torrans)

Railway Union 3 (K Lloyd 2, N Heisterkamp) Belfast Harlequins 2 (J Watt, Z Wilson)
Railway Union won a cracker at Park Avenue to continue their unbeaten start to the season, holding at bay a Belfast Harlequins outfit that pushed them all the way.

The Sandymount hosts started brilliantly, hunting in packs in the press, and broke the deadlock in the seventh minute when Kate Lloyd smashed in on her forehand following a left-wing attack broke to here. Jade Lamont denied Lloyd a second moments later from Nina Heisterkamp’s turnover. Heisterkamp made it two when she finished off a glorious pitch-length move just before the end of the first quarter.

Quins, though, have a fearsome midfield line-up in Zoe Wilson, Gemma Frazer, Jenny McAuley and Lizzie Colvin and they generated lots of second quarter chances. Grace O’Flanagan saved brilliantly down low to tip away Lucy Geddes’s shot to retain the 2-0 lead.

Jenna Watt put the tie back into focus with 20 minutes to go when her touch to Wilson’s switch move spun through the clutches of the Railway corner defence. Crucially, Railway replied instantly with the Orla Fox – who impressed in defence – slapping a ball into Lloyd’s path to ramp the ball into the roof of the net. It was her fifth goal in a week.

Wilson banged in a powerful corner shot to reduce the gap to 3-2 with 14 minutes to go. And the Irish international lined up another power-hit at goal five minutes from the end but, this time, O’Flanagan got down at full-stretch to deflect the ball around the post for a hard-fought three points.

UCD 2 (B Barr, A Russell) Pegasus 0
Goals from Bethany Barr and Abbie Russell fired UCD to a significant 2-0 win over previous table-toppers Pegasus at Belfield in a high quality tie at a damp Belfield.

After a strong start from the Belfielders, drawing the best from Sammy-Jo Greer, Pegasus came more into the tie toward the end of the first quarter. Katie Mullan came close to breaking the deadlock and the first goal arrived two minutes before half-time, a cracking move from Leah Ewart to Deirdre Duke to Barr who scored on her backhand.

Pegasus went down to nine briefly in the second half with Shirley McCay and Alex Speers taking green cards. Back at full strength, they made most of the moves in the third quarter with Taite Doherty having the key chance which was eventually snuffed out by a combination of Lena Tice and Clodagh Cassin.

The game was put to bed in the 63rd minute, though, when Mullan effected a great turnover and set up Russell to score the second. Ellen Curran almost created a third at the death for Russell but it was not required as they secured their third win of the season.

Ards 2 (C Brown, F Brown) Trinity 0
Ards moved back into the top half of the table with a goal in each half to defeat Trinity at Londonderry Park. They had most of the play in the first quarter but found the Dublin students in strong defensive form, keeping it scoreless until the half hour mark when Chloe Brown scored from a corner.

The third quarter was an even affair before the game was settled in the 55th minute when Tamara MacLeod pounced on a loose ball to feed Francesca Brown who scored on her reverse-stick for 2-0.

Monkstown 0 Cork Harlequins 4 (R Barry, E O’Leary, J O’Halloran, S Murphy)
Cork Harlequins moved clear at the top of the women’s EY Hockey League table courtesy of a goal in each quarter at the Merrion Fleet Arena.

Rebecca Barry opened the scoring in the seventh minute and they went two up through Emily O’Leary two minutes into the second quarter. Town had a couple of first half corners with Rosie Carrigan – standing in as captain with Sinead Loughran, along with Liz Murphy, not available – on the top but they were not able to convert while Lily Lloyd also went close.

Roisin Upton dragged in a corner but it was prematurely injected and so a reset set piece was the outcome which was eventually cleared. Julia O’Halloran did make it 3-0 following a classy passing move. Sarah Murphy added the final goal on the hooter, entering the circle on the right and shooting home a composed finish.

Loreto 2 (H Matthews 2) Pembroke 1 (J Ringwood)
Hannah Matthews’ set piece double saw the Beaufort club bounce back from their rough day out against Pegasus to record their second win of the campaign. She opened the scoring in the 29th minute from a corner while Sara Quill was in the sin-bin on a yellow card.

Matthews doubled the advantage from the stroke spot following a flowing move early in the second half. Jilly Ringwood pulled one back with 12 minutes to go to set up a nervy closing phase, especially when Jessica McGirr picked up a green card, but Loreto held on for the win.

Belfast Harlequins 3 (J McAuley, L Colvin, Z Wilson) Cork Harlequins 3 (R Upton 2, C Perdue)
Honours even in the battle of the Harlequins as Roisin Upton’s 68th minute goal saw Cork earn a 3-3 draw at Deramore Park, seeing the southerners end the weekend with four out of six and in second place while Belfast sit in seventh place.

The hosts got off to a brilliant start with Jenny McAuley making it 1-0 in the sixth minute and Lizzie Colvin added a second in the 16th minute, the latter a fine corner strike.

Cork fought back with Upton scoring her first of the day from a 20th minute corner and Caoimhe Perdue levelled the tie on half-time. A Zoe Wilson penalty stroke restored the Belfast lead soon after the break but Cork kept plugging away, winning a couple of corners, eventually leading to the equaliser at the end.

Monkstown 0 Ards 1 (F Kidd)
Faye Kidd’s fourth minute goal proved the sole difference between Ards and Monkstown to give the Ulster side a perfect six from six – with two clean sheets – over the weekend to move into fourth place.

The early goal came at the start of a very even match with Monkstown producing some fine phases of play but they were unable to break through the Ards defence. It means they remain in wait of their first points of the season while the Londonderry Park club continue their positive start to the campaign.

Pembroke 2 (J Ringwood, O Macken) Pegasus 3 (K McKee, H Grieve, A Speers)
Pegasus fought back from a 2-1 deficit to beat Pembroke and move into a share of third place as Alex Speers struck the winner at Serpentine Avene. After a scoreless first quarter, Katie McKee and Jilly Ringwood exchanged goals in the second quarter to go in at the big break at 1-1.

Orla Macken put Pembroke in front early in the second half only for Hannah Grieve to equalise within four minutes. Speers then scored a lovely goal to grab the lead and, in the end, a third win from six games to date.

Railway Union 2 (O Fox, S Canning) Trinity 2 (N Sweeney, S Campbell)
Railway fought back twice against Trinity to keep their unbeaten record going in the women’s EY Hockey League with their fourth draw out of six games.

Sally Campbell gave Trinity the lead for the first time with a spectacular shot into the top right corner in the 23rd minute. Orla Fox equalised from a corner three minutes later for 1-1, a rebound after a couple of Carolyn Crampton saves.

Niamh Sweeney restored the Trinity lead a minute into the second half when she fired home when located in the circle by Erica Markey. Once again, Railway came back and won a stroke in the 43rd minute which Sarah Canning converted, making it 2-2 with 27 minutes to go. Plenty of chances came and went for both teams but they had to settle for a share of the points.

UCD 3 (L Tice, K Mullan, D Duke) Loreto 1 (S Torrans)
UCD returned to the summit thanks to a superb second half performance, completing a six-point weekend to lead the way by a single point from Cork Harlequins with three points covering the top five.

Played in glorious sunshine, Loreto had the edge in terms of general play in the first half while UCD finished strongly but no breakthrough came. Two minutes into the second half, Lena Tice did the requisite from a corner. Katie Mullan – switching between midfield and the forward line – came alive during this spell, causing untold problems.

Sorcha Clarke won a corner which Mullan finished for 2-0 in the 53rd minute and the game was put to bed in fabulous fashion when Mullan placed a controlled pass into the path of Deirdre Duke who struck brilliantly. Sarah Torrans got one back in the final minute for Loreto but the result was gone at this stage.

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