Pegasus are sitting proudly at the top of the EYHL table after making it four straight wins on Saturday with a 3-1 comeback victory over Railway Union in Dublin.
If their early season form is a yardstick then Pegasus will be confident that they can go on to lift some silverware after reaching the EYHL play-off semi-finals and the Irish Senior Cup final last season, only to lose in both competitions. Co-captain Michelle Harvey said: “It’s great to be sitting top with four wins out of four going into a week’s break and, although it’s only the start of a long season I feel we have a really good chance this year.
“There were a lot of positive vibes after Ireland won the silver medals at the World Cup and we are excited to play and succeed in hockey, which is so often viewed as a minority sport. Regarding the Railway game, it was a tough one against a strong side but I thought we played with good discipline and patience. We had some very strong passages of play showing our tenacity, composure and commitment to come back from a goal down.”
Sarah Hawkshaw gave Railway a 10th minute lead when she converted a Kate McKenna pass. However, Ireland World Cup star Shirley McCay levelled matters before half-time with a clinical penalty corner conversion. Kate Gourley then got her second goal in as many weeks to make it 2-1 before Harvey scrambled in number three from another set-piece near the end.
Belfast Harlequins bounced back in style from last week’s 3-0 defeat to Cork as they beat Muckross 2-0 at Deramore with a goal in each half from Gemma Frazer and Rachel Johnston. Frazer opened the scoring from a second phase penalty corner in the eighth minute when her backhand shot squeezed through legs of the visiting keeper.
Newly-promoted Muckross threatened to score an equaliser early in the second quarter but some resolute defending and smart saves from Marianne Fox kept them out. Having weathered a brief storm, Quins went on to dominate most of the remainder of the game although the Dubliners looked dangerous on the counter attack. The hosts made the game virtually safe in the 43rd minute when team captain Johnston superbly deflected home a familiar set-piece for goal number two.
The result has moved Davy Frazer’s side to within two points of the play-off zone following a much improved performance. The Quins coach declared: “We didn’t dwell too much on the Cork defeat but the girls trained hard during the week and got their reward.”
“We knew what to expect because we had watched Muckross on video and we played with a lot of intensity which was pleasing.”
However, Ards were unable to make it a clean sweep for the Ulster sides as they went down 5-0 to Loreto in Dublin, meaning they have yet to score in their four matches to date. The only crumb of comfort came from the result at Deramore which kept Ards ahead of Muckross at the foot of the table by the smallest margin on goal difference.
In the Ulster Premier League, newly-promoted Lisnagarvey have taken over at the summit after an exciting 4-3 win over Banbridge, with two of the goals coming from Dawn Axon with Robyn Chambers and Chloe Gillard also on target. Garvey have now won five on the bounce, four in the league and one in the IHT, having secured promotion back into the top-flight last season. Elsewhere, champions Lurgan beat Rainey 2-0 while last season’s runners up Queen’s were 5-0 winners at Mossley with the other two top-flight fixtures ending all-square.
Irish international Jessica McMaster hit two late goals for the students, who scored three times in the second-half. Emily McStea gave then the lead in the eighth minute and Koren Ferguson added a second in the 15th. Alyssa Jebb made it 3-0 in the 49th minute before McMaster struck twice late on to seal a comfortable win.
On Friday night, Ulster Elks and Dungannon fought out a 1-1 draw, Leah Paul scoring for the hosts and Lauren Kennedy levelling for the Tyrone side.
In Senior One, Emma Shortt hit a hat-trick for Omagh in their 4-1 win over Armagh while Raphoe stay unbeaten after a 4-2 home success over Club KV, helped by a double from Wendy Patterson.
Leah Ternahan also scored twice in a 3-1 win for CI over Castle with Priorians and North Down drawing 1-1 while leaders Portadown beat Coleraine 2-1 on Friday night. The Ports’ win at Edenvilla was their third in a row and they went into the break 2-0 up after goals from Kaitlyn Pringle and Clare Dunn before Caroline McNickle replied in the 46th minute.
In the Irish Hockey Challenge, Dromore and NICS progressed with 6-0 wins over Athlone and Kilkenny respectively while Pegasus II beat UCC II on penalties in the Irish Junior Cup after a scoreless draw in Cork.
EYHL: Belfast Harlequins 2 (G Frazer, R Johnston) Muckross 0; Cork Harlequins 1 (C Sargent) Pembroke 2 (L Noble, M Horan); Loreto 5 (S Clarke, H Mulcahy, S Evans, S O’Brien, S Torrans) Ards 0; Old Alex 0 UCD 1 (E Curran); Railway Union 1 (S Hawkshaw) Pegasus 3 (S McCay, K Gourley, M Harvey)
Irish Hockey Challenge: NICS 6 Kilkenny 0; Dromore 6 (A Hughes, A Morrison, T Malcolmson, A Clarke, R Dougan, H Buchanan) Athone 0; NUIG 6 Cookstown 0
Irish Junior Cup: UCC 0 Pegasus 0, (Pegasus win shoot-out 2-1); Mossley 1 Cork Harlequins 5
Ulster Premier League: Ballymena 0 Randalstown 0; Lisnagarvey 4 (D Axon 2, R Chambers, C Gillard) Banbridge 3 (S McCullough, R Kerr 2) Lurgan 2 (S McClure, C Johnston) Rainey 0; Mossley 0 Queen’s 5 (E McStea, K Ferguson, A Jebb, J McMaster 2); Ulster Elks 1 (L Paul) Dungannon 1 (L Kennedy).
Senior One: Castle 1 (L Kirker) CI 3 (L Mercer, L Ternahan 2); Omagh 4 (E Shortt 3, L Brunt) Armagh 1; Portadown 2 (K Pringle, C Dunn) Coleraine 1 (C McNickle); Priorians 1 (E Allen) North Down 1 (R Murphy); Raphoe 4 (W Patterson 2, Z Tinney, E Harper) Club KV 2 (J Orr, J Moore)