Lisnagarvey and Pegasus sit proudly at the top of their respective tables in the EYHL after continuing their winning form at the weekend.
Garvey were comprehensive 8-2 winners over Cork C of I at Comber Road while Pegasus defeated Old Alex 3-0.
Shirley McCay played through the pain barrier against her former club as Pegasus made sure of their place in the play-offs. However, the Belfast side are in pole position for an automatic berth in Europe next season as they have now opened up a four points gap over nearest rivals Loreto, who were held 3-3 by Belfast Harlequins.
McCay had 11 stitches inserted in a nasty head injury less than a fortnight ago but was passed fit to play after missing last week’s win over Loreto. She took another blow to the face when bravely defending a penalty corner in the first-half on Saturday but fortunately she was wearing a protective mask at the time.
After a scoreless first half, Ireland’s most-capped player McCay hammered in a penalty corner in the 38th minute for the opener. The Belfast side added two more goals in the final quarter, through Taite Doherty and Alex Speers to seal an impressive win with just four games of the regulation season to play.
Last year’s play-off champions Loreto threw away a 3-1 lead at Deramore as Harlequins fought back superbly to snatch a deserved point and do Pegasus a favour. World Cup silver medallist Zoe Wilson finished off an excellent passing move to put Quins ahead in the 22nd minute but Sarah Clarke equalised five minutes later from a set-piece.
Irish international Sarah Torrans cracked home a brilliant backhand shot on the stroke of half time and then made it 3-1 a minute after the break. But Quins responded magnificently as Rachel Johnston converted two penalty corners with identical deflected efforts to earn her team a draw and keep their play-off hopes alive.
Coach Davy Frazer said: “They had enough chances early on to win it but, in the end, I felt we could have possibly got all three points.”
“To come back from two goals down in the way we did against a very good side said a lot for our character and our aim is still to make the top-four.”
Ards have moved four points ahead of basement side Muckross after their two goals from Strathearn schoolgirl Harriet Platt secured a 2-1 comeback win over Pembroke. The Ulster side’s long-awaited first victory of the campaign should be enough to guarantee them a relegation play-off at worst.
In IHL 2, Queen’s booked themselves a place in the promotion play-offs with a 2-1 home victory over Dublin side Corinthian thanks to a first-half double from Jessica McMaster.
In the Ulster Premier League, goals from Emma Quinn and Chloe Mitchell gave Ulster Elks a 2-0 win over Mossley while Stef McCullough hit a hat-trick for Banbridge in their 7-1 success over Rainey.
On the men’s front, Lisnagarvey moved to the head of the men’s EYHL for the first time this season thanks to their big win over Cork C of I combined with a 3-3 draw between Banbridge and Glenanne.
For Garvey, they were comprehensive winners against the bottom of the table side with Matthew Nelson and Ollie Kidd both scoring twice as they built an 8-0 lead by the end of the third quarter. C of I got a couple back via David Lynch and Stephen Parker but the Ulster side stayed in the clear for an 8-2 success and a strong victory.
It saw them leap into the lead as David Rae’s hat trick earned Banbridge a 3-3 draw at Glenanne. The Glens led 1-0 at half-time via Cedric Jakobi’s drag-flick before a Rae finish and a retaken penalty stroke swapped the lead at three-quarter time.
Shannon Boucher made it 2-2 with time running out before Jakobi looked to have snatched a winner but another stroke for Rae made it 3-3.
Three Rock Rovers continued their rise up the table with a 6-3 win over Annadale at Grange Road.
They led 4-0 at half-time with Harry Morris scoring twice and were five up before Dale rallied with three goals in succession to make it 5-3 with 11 minutes to go. Mark English, though, made the game safe.
In the Ulster Premier, Instonians have moved a point ahead of Kilkeel at the top following a 4-1 win at North Down while South Antrim defeated Bangor 5-2 with Adam Glass hitting a hat-trick.
EYHL: Lisnagarvey 8 (M Nelson 2, O Kidd 2, J Lorimer, B Nelson, A Williamson, T Chambers) Cork C of I 2 (D Lynch, S Parker); Glenanne 3 (C Jacobi 2, S Boucher) Banbridge 3 (D Rae 3); Three Rock Rovers 6 ( H Morris 2, M English 2, D Walsh, M Darling) Annadale 3 (C Thompson, R Burgess, P Crookshanks); Monkstown 7 (G Sarratt 2, G Watkins 2, S Byrne, R Spencer, D Carson) Dublin YMCA 1 (R Henderson)
Ulster Premier League: North Down 1 (G McKeown) Instonians 4 (S Kelso 2, R McGaughan, D Arneill); South Antrim 5 (A Glass 3, P Maguire, C Henry) Bangor 2 (R Cunningham, S Hamill)
Sussex Regiment Cup: Queen’s 6 (D Reid 2, S McCabe, F Harkin, J Hermon, R Wolsely) Portadown 3 (G Titler, R Scott, R Bennett)
Intermediate League: Armagh 2 Portrush 1; Ballynahinch 6 PSNI 2.
EYHL: Belfast Harlequins 3 (R Johnston 2, Z Wilson) Loreto 3 (S Torrans 2, S Clarke); Muckross 1 (R Cuddy) Cork Harlequins 2 (Y O’Byrne, R Barry); Old Alexandra 0 Pegasus 3 (S McCay, T Doherty, A Speers); Pembroke Wanderers 1 (A Naughton) Ards 2 (H Platt 2); Railway Union 1 (K Lloyd) UCD 2 (A Russell, B Barr)
IHL 2 Pool 1: Queen’s 2 (J McMaster 2) Corinthian 1 (N Torrans); UCC 0 Trinity 3 (A Long 2, E Markey)
IHL 2 Pool 2: Lurgan 5 (J-A Reid 2, O Gibson 2, L Wright) Dungannon 2 (K Elliott, E Greenway); Catholic Institute v Monkstown postponed.
Ulster Premier: Banbridge 7 (S McCullough 3, P Haugh, S Mount, O Berry, S Bann) Rainey 1; Ulster Elks 2 (E Quinn, C Mitchell) Mossley 0
Senior One: Club KV 3 (J Orr, R Hewitt, A Hill) Coleraine 2 (K Caithness, C McNickle); Omagh 9 (A Buchanan 3, E Shortt 2, E Hamilton 2, D Darragh, L Long) Castle 2 (L Passmore, L McClurg)