Women's Division One: Hermes 3 (Deirdre Duke 2, Anna O'Flanagan) Loreto 1 (Nikki Keegan)
Hermes returned to the top of division one as they sped into a rapid 3-0 lead inside the first 20 minutes and held off a game but heavily understrength Loreto. It meant what usually is a season-defining tie was turned into somewhat of a damp squib as Deirdre Duke (pictured) struck twice in the first quarter - the second with a high tap in to round off Aine Connery's steal and strike - as Hermes dominated the early phases.
But the game proved incredibly open and while Hermes were on top, Cathy McKean did clip the inside of Emma Gray's post before a defender was needed to sweep the ball off the line. Anna O'Flanagan rolled in amid a goal-mouth melee for 3-0 but Nikki Keegan pulled one back before the break with a sweet reaction on the rebound to Hannah Matthews original strike.
And the Beaufort side took that momentum into the second half to camp in the Hermes 25 for much of the third quarter, earning a couple of corners, and bossing play. A couple of wrong options on the approach to the circle and some confident Gray goalkeeping meant the margin stayed intact - Ali Meeke a particular thorn when introduced in bursts.
The excellent Connery and Elaine O'Neill were threats on the break but generally the chances died down in the latter stages though Christine Quinlan did need to slide to clear Sarah Barnwell's nudge off the line with six minutes to go.
The win lifts Hermes to first, a point clear of Railway with a game extra played while Loreto are three points further back. Both sides will hope to welcome back a number of players for the weekend's IHL ties with the Booterstown side hoping to have Jenny Burke and Chloe Watkins back while Loreto will hope their Irish quintet return unscathed from three matches in England.