Women's ESB Irish Hockey League: Pool B
Loreto’s IHL struggles continue for a second series of matches as the reigning champions fell to northern powerhouse Pegasus 2-1 in Belfast in a high quality encounter to leave them three points off the pace in Pool B.
Michelle Harvey’s drag-flick in the third quarter ultimately proved the difference in an end-to-end game between two of the sides who reached the competition’s inaugural play-off stages.
Loreto settled the quicker but could not capitalise on Lizzie Colvin’s decent work in the centre of the park as they created a couple of stylish chances but Pegs steadily grew into the game and saw Suzanne Beaney go close with the best move of a scoreless first half.
The former international, though, did in corner from which Arlene Boyles broke the deadlock in the 40th minute. Nikki Symmons responded instantly with a marvellous auto-pass and dribble to enter the circle and shoot to make it 1-1.
But Harvey netted the winner, still inside a hectic third quarter, from a corner won by the marauding Nadine Graham. And the Ulster champions kept Loreto at bay for the final quarter in spite of Kerry Harvey’s sin-binning to complete their second win of the campaign. Loreto lie fifth in the standings but their bonus point means they are still in contact with the play-off places.
Elsewhere, there were wins for both Alex and Hermes, the former picking up a notable road victory at Randalstown.
Roisin Flinn got her side off to the perfect start when she latched onto a through ball and slotted home. And her side went close to doubling the lead inside five minutes but Town keeper Emma Teggarty and Katherine Elkin combined to keep out a corner.
But it was not all one way traffic and Alex had to clear one off the line to keep the lead intact. They doubled up in the second quarter via a fine Aoife Budd deflection from a corner for a comfortable 2-0 half-time advantage.
Randalstown earned a series of third quarter penalty corners in the third quarter while Fyona Flinn and Ann-Marie Cullen both spent time stewing in the sin-bin.
And from Town’s 11th corner Catherine McGrillen finally pulled one back to make the final quarter a tense affair but few clear-cut chances emerged to give Alex three points and second place in the table behind Pegasus.
At Belfield on Sunday, Aine Connery’s first game against her former UCC team-mates proved vital as she popped up 14 minutes from time to break the deadlock.
She looked almost embarrassed (pictured, right) in the wake of her rebound from Jenny Burke’s first phase shot but it set up a first win of the campaign and raise hopes of returning to the final four. With UCC piling forward for an equaliser, Gillian Pinder (above, left) finished off a one-on-one chance past Karen Olden via Audrey O’Flynn’s stick to seal the win.
Early on, UCC enjoyed the better of the first quarter, forcing two corners, but Emma Gray and Sarah Greene were alert to the danger. Hermes, though, grew into the game and with the returning Niamh Atcheler using a strong second half wind to great effect with a series of aerials and Deirdre Duke earned a string of corners.
Connery’s goal, though, was to be the enduring memory as Hermes bounce back into contention.