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Women’s Weekend Review

18 Feb 2019 | Ladies
Ards did Ulster and Irish hockey proud at the weekend when they finished a very creditable fifth at the EuroHockey Indoor Challenge tournament in Lille.
The Ulster champions saved their best to last in Lille and their achievement means that next year’s Irish representatives, Railway Union, will also be competing in the third tier. At one stage Ards were in danger of relegation, but they staged a memorable comeback to beat Welsh side Whitchurch Saints 3-2 on Saturday.
That eased the pressure and they rounded off their campaign in style with an emphatic 5-2 win over Slovenian champions HK Moravske Toplice on Sunday. Ards were 4-0 up at the break after goals from Harriet Platt, Ellen Robinson, Amy Benson and Jodie Moore and Francesca Brown rounded off the scoring after Toplice had reduced the deficit to 4-2.
Saturday’s game was pivotal as Ards came back from 2-0 down at half-time to beat the Welsh side with goals from Brown, Becky Weir and Robinson. 
Meanwhile, in the EY Irish Hockey League, Pegasus remain a point behind Loreto at the top of the table after first-half goals from Shirley McCay and Michelle Harvey sealed a 2-0 win over Pembroke at the Dub. Pembroke caused Pegasus a few problems in an evenly contested second half, forcing several corners but the home defence held firm.
Belfast Harlequins’ chances of making the play-offs nosedived as Railway Union’s hopes received a boost after the Dublin side comprehensively outplayed their hosts with a 5-1 win at Deramore, with Zara Delany claiming a hat-trick. Indeed, the scoreline flattered Davy Frazer’s side, who could have been beaten by a bigger margin had it not been for the heroics of home keeper Marianne Fox and some wayward finishing from the visitors.
Railway could have been out of sight in the first quarter after incredibly carving out no fewer than six clear cut chances in the opening 12 minutes with the home defence all at sea. Irish international Sarah Hawkshaw (twice) and Delany shot wide in the opening 75 seconds and Kate McKenna and Kate Lloyd were both denied by Fox, who then made a great save from Kate Lloyd.
The only surprise was that the Dubliners took 24 minutes to break the stalemate when Cecilia Joyce scored from a penalty corner before Claire Weir equalised on the half-hour against the run of play. Delany made it 2-1 from the penalty spot in the 45th minute and Lloyd added a third with 11 minutes left when she scored from a rebound after Hawkshaw’s initial shot had been saved. Delany completed her hat-trick with two more goals in the last three minutes to complete an emphatic victory, twice scoring into an empty net after Quins had withdrawn Fox to have an extra outfield player.
The biggest cheer of the day from the home fans came when, with Railway leading 4-1, Quins’ kicking back Rachel Johnston brilliantly saved Delany’s penalty stroke with her stick. The pair sportingly shared a high-five and a giggle immediately after the incident before Delany had the last laugh when she completed her treble.
In Pool A of IHL 2, Queen’s extended their lead at the head of the table to eight points with an impressive 4-1 win over UCC at the Dub. Emily McStea got them one up at half-time with a well taken goal as she squeezed the ball home from a narrow angle before Erin Getty’s battling gave them extra breathing room at three quarter time, 2-0. A further McStea goal and one from Claire Whiteside was countered by a Christina Dring effort in the final quarter. Corinthian meet Trinity on February 27 in a crucial tie in this group.
Catholic Institute also moved within touching distance of the playoff stages in the other pool as they swept to a 3-0 win at Lurgan. Ireland world Cup silver medallist Roisin Upton was the inspiration, scoring twice with her first coming from a 17th minute penalty corner drag-flick. Laura Foley added the second with 10 minutes to go following great work from Anna Horan.
Upton then completed the win from a penalty stroke, making it five wins from five and putting 14 points clear of Dungannon. The Ulster side can just about catch them if they win four out of four games and Institute lose their last three.
In the Ulster Premier League, Ballymoney stretched their lead at the top to four points after Brigid Cleland’s goal sealed a 1-0 home win over Lisnagarvey. There is no change at the bottom after Randalstown lost 3-1 to Mossley and fellow strugglers Ballymena went down 2-1 to Ulster Elks with a late Hannah Irwin penalty stroke. Rainey moved closer to safety with a 3-2 win over Dungannon, having never been behind at the indoor arena in Magherafelt.
In senior One, Raphoe stay top after the Pattersons, Wendy and Leanne each scored twice in a 6-1 win over Armagh. Omagh stayed in touch after Dani Darragh hit two in a 3-2 win at Coleraine while Jill Kennedy was the hat-trick heroine for Priorians in a 3-0 win over Club KV at the Dub.

EuroHockey Indoor Challenge
Saturday: Ards 3 (F Kidd, B Weir, A Benson) KPH Raca 3; Ards 3 (F Brown, B Weir, E Robinson) Whitchurch Saints 2
Sunday: Ards 5 (H Platt, E Robinson, A Benson, J Moore, F Brown) HK Moravske Toplice 2.
EYHL: Belfast Harlequins 1 (C Weir) Railway Union 5 (Z Delany 3, C Joyce, K Lloyd); Muckross 0 Loreto 6 (H Matthews 2, S O’Brien, N Daly, A Meeke, M Jennings); Old Alexandra 0 Cork Harlequins 3 (R Barry, M Barry, C Perdue); Pegasus 2 (S McCay, M Harvey) Pembroke 0
EYHL 2: Pool 1: Queens University 4 (E McStea 2, E Getty, C Whiteside) UCC 1 (C Dring)
Pool 2: Lurgan 0 Catholic Institute 3 (R Upton 2, L Foley); NUIG 0 Monkstown 4 (A Naughton 2, R Carrigan, A Etherington)
Ulster Premier: Ballymoney 1 (B Cleland) Lisnagarvey 0; Rainey 3 (S Semple 2, A Hegarty) Dungannon 2 (J Hood, K Elliott); Randalstown 1 (J Robinson) Mossley 2 (R McCullough, R McConnell, A Jones); Ulster Elks 2 (J Allen, H Irwin) Ballymena 1 (R McCluggage)
Senior One: CI 0 North Down 2 (K Sinclair, F McCann); Castle 0 Portadown 2 (L Craig, A Gordon); Raphoe 6 (L Patterson, R Wauchop, W Patterson 2, L Patterson 2) Armagh 1 (L Hanna); Coleraine 2 (Z Purdy, S Humphrey) Omagh 3 (A Buchanan, D Darragh  2); Club KV 0 Priorians 3 (J Kennedy 3).