Railway Union spent almost an hour without a recognised goalkeeper but still managed to land a 3-3 draw against Old Alex in a cracking women’s EY Hockey League contest at Park Avenue.
Riona Norton departed with just 11 minutes on the clock and, without a keeper in reserve, Railway opted to play with 11 outfielders for the remainder of the tie.
Incredibly, they went in front against the side second in the table with a double from Kate Lloyd putting them 3-1 up going into the last 20 minutes.
Efforts from Lena Tice and Nikki Evans saw Alex nick a point but it ultimately sees them lose further ground on leaders Pembroke who were 2-0 winners over Muckross.
They now have a four-point buffer at the halfway stage of the league with Rachel O’Brien and Tori Wensley getting the goals.
Pegasus were also held to a 3-3 draw by UCD at Newforge, making for a perfect day for Pembroke and they can extend their lead to seven points if they win against bottom side Cork Harlequins on December 4th.
The remainder of the top seven have concluded their pre-Christmas schedule with games pushed back to the new year due to the Junior World Cup. Belfast Harlequins will play Muckross on December 4th and then Cork Harlequins face Muckross on December 11th in the other remaining games.
Elsewhere, there were a pair of 8-0 wins with Catholic Institute beating an understrength Belfast Quins by that margin while Loreto produced the same result against Cork Harlequins.
EYHL Division 2 got up and running on Saturday with the two groups producing very different outcomes. In Pool A, Zara Malseed earned Ards a 1-1 draw against Corinthian when she cancelled out Leigh Pelow’s early goal. Trinity and UCC tied 0-0 at Santry Avenue to see all sides level after day one with a draw each.
In Pool B, meanwhile, there were 3-0 wins for Monkstown and Queen’s. For Town, Anna O’Flanagan got her first goal since rejoining the club recently, adding to Suzie Kelly and Olivia Brady efforts as they got the best of Cork C of I.
Queen’s ran out 3-0 victors over NUIG, Alyssa Jebb, Sophie McDowell and Maddison Bowyer making the difference.
Women EYHL Division 1: Catholic Institute 8 (N Carroll 3, R Upton 2, L Clery, A Horan, M Scanlon) Belfast Harlequins 0; Loreto 8 (S Evans, H Matthews, A Murray, Y Pratt, G Donald, C Hamill, A Taaffe, S Torrans) Cork Harlequins 0; Muckross 0 Pembroke 2 (R O’Brien, T Wensley); Pegasus 3 (E Quinn, L McKee, T Doherty) UCD 3 (N Carey 2, M Carey); Railway Union 3 (K Lloyd 2, F Maughan) Old Alex 3 (N Evans 2, L Tice)
EYHL Division 2 - Pool A: Ards 1 (Z Malseed) Corinthian 1 (L Pelow); Trinity 0 UCC 0
Pool B: Monkstown 3 (S Kelly, A O’Flanagan, O Brady) Cork C of I 0; Queens University 3 (A Jebb, S McDowell, M Bowyer) NUIG 0
EY Hockey League – Day nine round-up
Railway Union 3 (K Lloyd 2, F Maughan) Old Alex 3 (N Evans 2, L Tice)
Railway Union produced a quite remarkable performance to come away with a 3-3 draw from their tie against Old Alex having played almost an hour without injured goalkeeper Riona Norton.
Without a recognised replacement, they decided to go with 11 outfielders rather than deploy a stand-in and they duly produced an outstanding display in defence, limiting Alex to just one corner and seven circle entries in the contest.
Prior to Norton’s departure, Railway had the game’s first corner repelled by the returning Holly Micklem and they carried the greater threat in the first 20 minutes with Niamh Shaw’s blocked by Jessica McGirr.
Alex did go in front from their first shot of note, a cleverly angled ball finding Nikki Evans in behind the back and she slotted into an open goal in the 27th minute. The hosts hit back five minutes later when Sarah Hawkshaw’s skill and spin pass welcomed Florence Maughan to attack and she guided home her second goal in a week.
And they went in front just after half-time where Maughan intercepted inside her own half, drove up the pitch to Ali O’Leary and she picked out Kate Lloyd who spun around Micklem onto her reverse and clipped home.
Emma Smyth and Orla Fox went close before it became 3-1 with Lloyd gleefully smashing in a bouncing ball that popped her way. Alex stormed back with two goals within 40 seconds before the end of the third quarter, the first from Tice’s smart corner shot down the unguarded middle. Evans then got another direct from a tip-off turnover to make it 3-3, Mikayla Power putting her through.
Into the final quarter, the big moment came when Niamh Sweeney intercepted for Alex and set up a four-on-two attack. Deirdre Duke was through but Orla Patton somehow got back to block the empty net.
Railway finished stronger with the pick of the chances going to Kate Dillon, bardging through down the left but Micklem saved well.
Pegasus 3 (E Quinn, L McKee, T Doherty) UCD 3 (N Carey 2, M Carey)
Pegasus were left seeing double as UCD's Irish international twins Niamh and Michelle Carey shared the students' goals in an enthralling EYHL draw at Newforge.
Taite Doherty's superb effort made it 3-2 to the Belfast side in the final quarter but Niamh set up her sibling to rattle in the equaliser with seven minutes left.
Emma Quinn gave Pegasus the lead after nine minutes from the third of three penalty corners forced in quick succession.
But, within 60 seconds Niamh broke clear and had plenty of time to pick her spot to make it 1-1. Michelle then got in on the act finishing off a fine sweeping move from right to left to send the visitors into the lead at the first break.
But Pegasus drew level in the 26th minute courtesy of a brilliant strike from Lucy McKee who found the net off the upright after an assist from Doherty. Nine minutes into the second half, Doherty's sheer persistence was rewarded when she broke two tackles and fired the ball high into the net from a narrow angle to make it 3-2.
UCD enjoyed plenty of possession after that setback and deservedly snatched a share of the spoils when Michelle Carey found her twin at a set-piece and she deflected the ball home.
Pegasus had the better of the last few minutes and Niamh McIvor shot narrowly wide after Leah Paul had been denied by the keeper.
Muckross 0 Pembroke 2 (R O’Brien, T Wensley)
With results working in their favour elsewhere, Pembroke dug out a 2-0 win over a determined Muckross who made life very difficult for the current league leaders at Grange Road.
Julia Balcerzak’s strong sweep shot was the first to draw a save with Emma Buckley getting down low to tip away a good chance.
Pembroke ratcheted up the pressure and started to win a couple of corners which Muckross managed to keep at bay with Aoife Glennon to the fore. In the 16th minute, a great team move via Ella Pasley, Emily Beatty and Leah McGuire around the backline platform worked the ball to Amy-Kate Trevor who found Rachel O’Brien. She unleashed a brilliant shot into the bottom corner for 1-0.
And they moved two clear early in the second half when Ellen Curran’s backhand shot got a neat tip from Tori Wensley to lift the ball over the out-stretched leg of Glennon.
Pembroke had further corner chances but Glennon and Muckross were resolute and able to withstand the attacks but the visitors had done enough to move four points clear.
Loreto 8 (S Evans, H Matthews, A Murray, Y Pratt, G Donald, C Hamill, A Taaffe, S Torrans) Cork Harlequins 0
Loreto moved into the top four for the first time this season with a comfortable win to conclude their pre-Christmas programme of league matches.
Hannah Matthews started the goal-rush when Aoife Taaffe got to the baseline and pulled back into her path. Her shot took a couple of deflections but worked its way over the line. Sarah Evans added the next from a corner that went slightly awry at the top, smashing home on her backhand.
Aisling Murray finished off an excellent team goal, assisted by Nicola Torrans for 3-0 at half-time. Yasmin Pratt continued the scoring in the second half with a smart finish following Sarah Torrans’ driving run and pass through.
Pratt set up Grace Donald’s fifth score, a thunderous shot to the top corner; Christina Hamill powered in a corner from the trapper’s spot and Taaffe also netted from a corner. Sarah Torrans completed the eight in the closing minutes.
Catholic Institute 8 (N Carroll 3, R Upton 2, L Clery, A Horan, M Scanlon) Belfast Harlequins 0
Catholic Institute put an understrength Belfast Harlequins to the sword with a comprehensive 8-0 win at Rosbrien. Leah Clery got the ball rolling in the fourth minute after good pressure on the left ended with her unmarked in the circle to tap in at the back post.
Róisín Upton’s corner made it 2-0 in the eighth minute and it was 5-0 by half-time. Naomi Carroll got the first of her hat trick when she attacked the baseline and her ball across found its way in. She applied a rocket of a shot for the fourth and Anna Horan added another corner before the big break.
Upton intercepted a hit out and powered into the circle to fire home on the backhand for the next. Muireann Scanlon got the seventh and Carroll closed out the scoring with 15 minutes to go.