Women's ESB Irish Hockey League - Pool A round-up
A superb Railway Union second half performance against Cork Harlequins moved them into a great position at the top of Pool A of the women’s Irish Hockey League, three points clear of the chasing pack.
Cecelia Joyce’s second half double and a Jean McDonnell corner strike ensured a 3-0, bonus point win in a weather-affected game at Park Avenue which saw the sides hauled off for five minutes due to heavy rain.
Nonetheless, the hockey was of a high quality as Leinster and Munster champions clashed. The first half was cagey, though, with McDonnell and Sinead Walsh’s combination work to draw an excellent save from Amy O’Neill the highlight of a period of few chances.
But within three minutes of the restart Cecelia Joyce followed up McDonnell’s shot from Railway’s first corner and eight minutes later the poacher nabbed a tip-in after Kate and Emer Dillon created the initial momentum. And, after the rain break, McDonnell earned her side a second successive bonus point when her corner-shot took a deflection into the net.
Just down the road, Pembroke moved into second spot in the group with a thrilling 3-2 win over Cork C of I as Karen Hales potted a double against her former team-mates.
She scored the first inside two minutes from the game’s first corner and excelled in the opening quarter to deny the strength and pace of Sinead Connery – the outstanding player of the game.
She made it 1-1 in the third quarter, completing an excellent team move as C of I came back into the game and three corner chances for the Garryduff side went a begging leading into the fourth quarter.
At the far end, however, Alice Ward restored the Pembroke lead after a left-wing cross wreaked havoc with 12 minutes left. But, down to ten players due to Connery’s green card, Mel Ryan nailed a corner to level once more.
Hilda Maguire followed Connery to the line for not retreating at a free but Hales stepped up once more to crash home from Pembroke’s second corner of the game six minutes from time to seal the three points.
Ards tied 1-1 with a depleted Ballymoney in the Ulster derby. Former UCD woman, Katy Fraser opened the scoring inside five minutes from a corner but Ards inability to add to that tally from eight further corners cost them dear.
Pool A results: Railway Union 3 (Cecelia Joyce 2, Jean McDonnell) Cork Harlequins 0; Pembroke 3 (Karen Hales 2, Alice Ward) Cork C of I 2 (Sinead Connery, Mel Ryan); Ards 1 (Katy Fraser) Ballymoney 1 (Rachel Lightbody)
Standings: 1. Railway Union 8pts (+6) 2. Pembroke 5pts (+1) 3. Cork Harlequins 4pts (0) 4. Ballymoney 4pts (0) 5. Ards 2pts (-3) 6. Cork C of I 1pt (-4)
* For Deryck Vincent's photos of Railway Union vs Cork Harlequins, click here. For Adrian Boehm's photos of Pembroke vs Cork C of I, click here