Pegasus leap-frogged Loreto to move back into pole position in the women’s EYHL with a thrill a minute 3-2 victory at Grange Road.
They did so after falling behind early on when Nicci Daly latched onto Sarah Torrans’ slip pass to net for an eighth minute lead. The lead did not last long, though, as Caitlyn Harvey found space at the top of the D in the 15th minute to level things up.
Loreto had largely been on top in the first quarter but Pegs got their rhythm going in the second and they scored from a corner slipped to injector Ruth Maguire for a 2-1 half-time lead. Siofra O’Brien made it 2-2 inside a minute of the restart but Pegasus with Lucy McKee’s shot from very close to the edge of the circle finding its way in a minute later for the ultimately decisive goal.
Loreto tried everything to get back on terms but Pegasus withstood their efforts to record a famous win. Belfast Harlequins play-off hopes suffered another blow as UCD made it four wins in-a-row to remain in third place in the standings, five points off second with a game in hand after a 2-1 win at Deramore.
UCD controlled the game in the first half before Harlequins fought back in the second and made a real battle of the tie but ended up just short. The Dublin side went in front via some lovely two-touch hockey in from of the goalkeeper from Orla Patton to Michelle Carey to Abbie Russell who got down low to finish.
Niamh Carey then made it two when she got on the end of Sarah Patton’s pass. Quins went close to getting one back when Jenna Watt’s hit the post but they remained 2-0 down at half-time. They did get one back from a set piece after the big break when Emilia Cutrona followed up after Clodagh Cassin made the initial save from Zoe Wilson.
The hosts piled on the pressure as time went on with UCD living on their nerves as Olivia Savage’s driving runs caused problems, leading to some vital interceptions from the likes of Orla Patton and Michelle Carey to ease the danger.
Quins coach Davy Frazer said: “We are really disappointed with the result as I felt we had the edge in the second half and deserved to take more from the game.”
“It was a good performance especially as we had to do without Lizzie and we also lost Rhiannon Coulter with a head injury after she had been one of our best players on the day.”
Ards stay in the relegation play-off spot as Old Alex moved up to seventh in the table as first half goals from Erika Hinkson and Lisa Jacob gave them a 2-1 win in Dublin. For Ards, it now means they have 13 points to make up eighth placed Railway with six rounds to go and so it looks increasingly likely their best hope is a play-off tie.
To do that, they need to finish ahead of Muckross, making their date on March 30 a season-defining one. Harriet Platt got them back into the game in the second half but Alex stayed clear and now look well set to avoid any relegation drama in their EYHL debut season.
In IHL 2, Queen’s went down 2-1 to Trinity in Dublin but are still on course for the promotion play-offs. Rebecca Quinn gave them an early lead but Trinity hit back with goals from Ailish Long and Rachel Burns in the last 12 minutes.
Ballymoney stay at the top of the Ulster Premier League but only by a point after falling to a surprise 2-0 away defeat by Rainey. Kirsty McLarnon and Honor Graham got the goals as Rainey moved eight points clear of the drop zone ahead of Randalstown and basement side Ballymena.
Champions Lurgan stay second, a point off the pace with two games in hand, after Lauren Wright’s 26th minute goal sealed a 1-0 win over Randalstown. Ulster Elks have moved up to third after goals from Megan Frazer and Chloe Mitchell sealed a 2-0 home win over Banbridge while Lisnagarvey are fourth following a 5-2 win at Mossley.
Raphoe stay in pole position in Senior One after Wendy Patterson scored twice in a 4-0 win at Armagh while in the IJC semi finals, Pegasus fell to a 2-1 defeat against UCD II who scored twice after trailing to an early Suzanne Ferris goal.
On the men’s front, none of the three top sides in the EYHL won, with Banbridge and Glenanne losing and Lisnagarvey only managing a draw against lowly YMCA.
Guy Sarratt’s 61st drag-flick settled a cracking 4-3 tussle at the Merrion Fleet Arena as Banbridge’s title hopes suffered a big setback in Dublin. It was the third time Town had led in a see-saw battle. Peter Brown had given Bann the early advantage from play but Gareth Watkins fired home a low penalty stroke in the 14th minute, won by Sarratt’s drag hitting a foot on the line.
Ryan Spencer’s reverse from the top left corner of the circle went in the bottom right for 2-1 midway through the second quarter only for Eugene Magee’s drag-flick to tie things up at half-time. Sarratt restored the Town lead early in the second half from a reset penalty corner following an initial shot coming off Philip Brown’s foot. Parity was restored for a third time by Johnny McKee when he tapped in from an attack down the baseline.
The returning David Fitzgerald then made an impression with a couple of good saves from Alexander Tinney before a series of Town corners ended with Sarratt ripping one top left and they held firm for a fifth win of the season.
Lisnagarvey salvaged what may yet prove an important point but YMCA will be by far the happier as they continued their strong recent form, making it seven points from the last 12 to enliven their chances of avoiding relegation. The Y had to roll with the punches in the first quarter as Garvey made most of the play with visiting goalie Jakim Bernsden impressing.
YM hit the front in the second quarter with Thom Ritchie finishing off a quick counter-attack move but the Comber Road hosts got level quickly via Andy Williamson’s pass to Matthew Nelson to finish. Ben Campbell put YM in front for a second time in the 44th minute from a corner and they stayed 2-1 ahead when Bernsden made his second penalty stroke save – from James Corry – in three games.
Troy Chambers equalised with 14 minutes left as YM had to hold out with 10 men three times with Grant Glutz (green), Ritchie and Campbell (both yellow) spent time in the bin but got their precious point.
Cookstown missed out on a great chance for a win at Steelweld Park as they could not make a two-goal lead stick at Steelweld Park, Annadel coming back to draw 2-2. The Reds controlled pitch position and possession throughout the first half with Mark Crooks and Paul Thompson in flying form down the right flank.
However, they found Annadale goalkeeper Johnny Moore in excellent form and he kept his team in the match throughout the first half. Cookstown found a way past him with one minute left in the half, a slick move at the short corner saw Jack Haycock deflect home for 1-0. Annadale started the better of the two teams in the second period but it was Cookstown who extended their lead.
A penalty corner broke down but Greg Allen kept his head, driving the ball back into the danger area for Ryan Millar to deflect over the line. The Carryduff men came back into the game with Matthew Rollins having to be on his toes to stop a well-worked shot from Callum Robson. Dale did get a goal when Ben Wallace was allowed to force his way through a maze of tackles to steer the ball past Josh McCabe for 2-1.
Annadale had Ryan Getty and Tom Robson yellowed either side of the third and fourth quarter but did manage to get level. Adam McAllister looked to have a wall of red players between him and the goal but a mixture of excellent skills and loose tackling allowed him to get into a position to scoop the ball over the line from the right baseline.
Moore made another great stop from Michael Kerr at the set piece with Cookstown putting on all sorts of pressure in the final quarter, but Dale were able to see out the game despite late yellow cards for Andrew O’Hare and the Reds’ Ryan Millar.
Instonians are among the four sides into for the EYHL 2 semi-finals and they will be joined by Railway Union, UCD and Corinthian. After Inst’s William Robinson had whipped home from a set piece, Davy Howard scored a final quarter switch-flick to earn Corinthian a 1-1 draw at Shaw’s Bridge. .
It earned Inst the points they needed to be uncatchable by Kilkeel. The Mourne side were 2-0 down against UCC inside seven minutes to a pair of Eoin Finnegan goals and Sam Grace’s goal made it 3-1 at half-time. Kilkeel fought back via goals from Eddie Agnew, David Finlay and a 61st minute winner from Jonathan Aiken for a 4-3 success.
Railway punched their ticket when they saw off Bangor 2-1 at Park Avenue as Eoin MacArthur’s penalty corner rebound in the 17th minute and a direct strike from Adam O’Callaghan put them two up. Chris Barnes’ penalty stroke made it interesting in the closing quarter but Railway got the four points.
Congratulations to Ballynahinch, who are through to the Irish Hockey Trophy final after a 5-0 win over Portrush and will now meet Limerick in the final.
EYHL: Monkstown 4 (G Sarratt 2, G Watkins, R Spencer) Banbridge 3 (P Brown, E Magee, J McKee); Lisnaarvey 2 (M Nelson, T Chambers) YMCA 2 (T Ritchie, B Campbell); Cookstown 2 (J Haycock, R Miller) Annadale 2 (B Wallace, A McAllister); Cork C of I 1 (J Jermyn) Pembroke 2 (H Spain 2; Three Rock 3 (A Empey, L Madeley, R Canning) Glenanne 1 (J Saeys)
IHL 2 Pool A: Railway Union 2 (E MacArthur, A O’Callaghan) Bangor 1 (C Barnes); UCD 5 Bandon 2.
IHL 2 Pool B: Instonians 1 (W Robinson) Corinthian 1 (D Howard); Kilkeel 4 (G Russell, D Finlay, E Agnew, J Aiken) UCC 3
Irish Hockey Challenge Semi-finals: Portrush 0 Ballynahinch 5; Limerick 4 Bray 1
EYHL: Belfast Harlequins 1 (E Cutrona) UCD 2 (A Russell, N Carey); Cork Harlequins 3 (R Barry 3) Railway Union 1 (K Fearon); Loreto 2 (N Daly, S O’Brien) Pegasus 3 (C Harvey, R Maguire, L McKee); Muckross 0 Pembroke 2 (A Ward, E Beatty); Old Alexandra 2 (E Hinkson, L Jacob) Ards 1 (H Platt)
IHL 2 Pool 1: Greenfields 0 UCC 1 (J Clein); Trinity 2 (A Long, R Burns) Queens University 1 (R Quinn)
IHL 2 Pool 2: Catholic Institute 3 (R Upton, E Ryan, L Clery) NUIG 0; Monkstown 3 (S Hoban-Logan 2, C Watkins) Dungannon 1 (K Elliott)
Irish Junior Cup Semi-finals: Loreto II 3 (C Vincent, J McGirr, R O’Keefe) Railway Union II 3 (K Orr, J McDonnell, J Long), Railway win shoot-out 4-2; Pegasus II 1 (S Ferris) UCD II 2 (H McKenna, S Young).
Ulster Premier League: Mossley 2 (K Dixon, A McCullough) Lisnagarvey 5 (K McIlwaine 2, D Axon, R Chambers, C Gillard); Rainey 2 (K McLarnon, H Graham) Ballymoney 0; Randalstown 0 Lurgan 1 (L Wright); Ulster Elks 2 (M Frazer, C Mitchell) Banbridge 0
Senior One: Armagh 0 Raphoe 4 (L Smyth, L Patterson, W Patterson 2); North Down (S Lewis) Club KV 2 (J Orr, C Houston); Omagh 2 (A Buchanan, L Long) Coleraine 0; Portadown 2 (L Craig, C Dunn) CI 1 (M Smartt)