Belfast Harlequins ladies slumped to a hugely disappointing 3-0 defeat against their Cork namesakes at Deramore on Saturday. The result signalled an early blow to their chances of making the EY Irish Hockey League play-offs.
However, Belfast coach Davy Frazer had no complaints about the outcome as he admitted his team were second best throughout the 70 minutes. He declared: “I’m not sure 3-0 was an accurate reflection of the game but they certainly deserved to win.” “We didn’t have a shot on target until the 40th minute which was disappointing as we had worked hard in training on our play in both circles. “We’re still in with a chance of making the top-four but we can’t afford too many more slip-ups, with four points out of a possible nine so far.”
After missing an earlier opportunity, Olivia Roycroft broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute when she fired home after finding herself unmarked. Cliodhna Sargent then had a penalty corner taken off the line by Linzi Hamilton as the visitors continued to dominate. Cork forced home keeper Marianne Fox into several fine saves early in the second half before Michelle Barry made it 2-0 in the 44th minute, after slack marking allowed her time and space to score. Abigail Edwards and Gemma Frazer were denied at the other end by Cork keeper Becky Maye as the hosts briefly threatened a comeback. But Zara Bowles sealed the deal in the 51st minute when she added a third from close range to complete a miserable afternoon for Davy Frazer’s team.
On a more positive note, Belfast Harlequins players Gemma Frazer and Jenna Watt have been called up to the Ireland senior training panel after impressing the national coaching staff with impressive displays for the club. Midfielder Frazer, who was part of the squad previously and has already racked up several caps, took a year out to concentrate on her studies two seasons ago.
Watt was also a member of the extended panel a few years ago but she, too, opted out to focus on her work commitments when she was training to be a solicitor. The striker was in London to watch the Ireland players secure a set of silver medals at the World Cup in August but now she will be joining them on the training pitch over the next few weekends. In another boost for Quins, goalkeeper Marianne Fox has been added to the Ulster-based regional training squad working under assistant Ireland coach and former Ards boss Gareth Grundie. Harlequins, of course, had two players on the World Cup squad in Zoe Wilson and Lizzie Colvin and now their representation at international level has grown. Next up for Ireland, on the competitive front, is the Olympic qualifying process which begins next year as they bid to make it to Tokyo in 2020 after their world ranking soared to a best-ever eighth following their World Cup heroics
Elsewhere on Saturday, Pegasus made it three wins from three to go top of the table after defeating Ards 4-0 at Londonderry Park with goals from Alex Speers (2), Stephanie Thompson and Kate Gourley.
In the second tier IHL 2, Queen’s maintained their 100 per cent record when a late winner from Irish international Jessica McMaster clinched them a 4-3 away win over UCC. However, Lurgan fell to a second successive defeat as they went down 3-2 to Catholic Institute in Limerick.
Ballymoney stay top of the Ulster Premier League, despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Ulster Elks at Jordanstown where Nikki Parke got a second half equaliser after Emma Quinn’s opener. Elsewhere, Banbridge and Mossley fought out a 1-1 stalemate, while Ballymena came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Dungannon.
In Senior One, there were wins for Portadown, Club KV and Coleraine with the other two games ending all square.
EY Irish Hockey League: Belfast Harlequins 0 Cork Harlequins 3 (O Roycroft, M Barry, Z Bowles); Pembroke 2 (E Beatty, G Pinder) Railway Union 0; UCD 2 (A Russell 2) Loreto 0; Muckross 1 (K Fitzgerald) Old Alex 5 (A Connery 2, R Gray, E Russell, L Jacob); Ards 0 Pegasus 4 (A Speers 2,S Thompson, K Gourley)
EYIHL 2 Pool A: UCC 3 (A Collins, J Clein, L Ryan) Queen’s University 4 (C Whiteside, E McStea, T Hastings, J McMaster)
Pool B: Monkstown 5 (R Moore, S Moore, A Barnwell, L Grehan, R Carrigan) NUIG 2 (M Corcoran, B Anderson); Catholic Institute 3 (R Upton, K Daly, L Foley) Lurgan 2 (L McNeill, S McClure)
Ulster Premier League: Banbridge 1 (O Berry) Mossley 1(K Dixon); Dungannon 2 (L Cassels, L White) Ballymena 2 (B McFerran, C Gillespie); Randalstown 0 Lisnagarvey 8 (K McIlwaine 3, J Flynn 2, L Hughes, R Chambers, C Gillard); Ulster Elks 1 (E Quinn) Ballymoney 1 (N Parke).
Senior One: Armagh 1 (Y Morrow) Castle 1 (K Manderson);CI 0 Portadown 3 (C Dunn 2, S-J Corry); Club KV 3 (J Doak 2, R Hewitt) North Down 2 (H Brittain, A Kimber); Priorians 1 (E Allen) Coleraine 2 (C Lyttle, K Caithness); Omagh 2 (D Darragh, A Buchanan) Raphoe 2 (L Patterson, W Patterson).