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Weekend Hockey - Roundup

UCD's women staged a smash and grab act at the Dub on Saturday to dash Pegasus' chances of winning the EY Irish Hockey League regulation season title and securing the one automatic spot in Europe next year.

Dublin captain Sara Twomey scored the only goal from a penalty corner with just nine minutes remaining when she converted one of the students' few chances. The result means that Pegasus now trail UCD by 11 points with just six games left so, realistically, their hopes of a trip to the continent next year lie in the play-offs which will determine the last remaining place.

Ali McNeill's side had the bulk of the possession and goal scoring opportunities but were unable to find the killer touch in the circle.

"I thought we deserved to take something from the game but we suffered because we were unable to take our chances." said the Pegasus coach.

After a dull opening 35 minutes when Pegasus captain Alex Speers was denied by Ireland goalkeeper Clodagh Cassin, the hosts enjoyed their best spell in the third quarter. Speers was again foiled by Cassin, who also stopped a Shirley McCay set-piece and then heaved a sigh of relief when Steph Thompson's penalty corner effort struck the upright.

In the 44th minute, Cassin again showed her ability when she tipped a Taite Doherty piledriver over the crossbar. However, UCD broke to the other end in the final quarter and forced several penalty corners, from the last of which, Twomey dispatched the ball home at the far post for the winner.

There was a nice touch from UCD player Sarah Robinson, who administered first-aid to injured Pegasus player Ruth Maguire after she had been accidentally struck in the face. Realising her opponent was in pain and distress, Sarah rushed to the scene to comfort and treat her in a selfless and caring gesture which was much appreciated by Pegasus, not least the victim, who thankfully, was not seriously injured.

Elsewhere, in a bad day at the office for Ulster's IHL trio, Ards and Belfast Harlequins also lost, both going down 2-0 to Trinity and Railway Union respectively. Ards had the bulk of the possession in Dublin but were unable to convert as Trinity eased their relegation worries Eliie Noone and Niamh Sweeney scoring in each half.

At Deramore, Harlequins' play-off chances also suffered a blow as Kate Lloyd and Kate Orr sealed Railway's win and left them level on points with Pegasus in fourth place. However, Loreto are seven points behind so Pegasus appear to be safe as far as clinching a play-off place is concerned. That is provided Loreto don't spring a surprise and go on to win the Irish Cup thus meaning only the top three IHL finishers progress to the IHL k-o stages.

In the Ulster Premier League, Queen's stay top despite only drawing 1-1 with Randalstown at the Dub. Jessica McMaster scrambled in a first half opener for the students but CJ MCDonald equalised midway through the second period from a penalty corner.

"It was a disappointing result for us and we had a chance to go 2-0 up and later get a late winner." said Queen's coach Simon Bell.

"You always want to win your home matches but a 1-0 lead is never comfortable and we were made to pay but we still have our noses in front, just about."

Lurgan have closed the gap and gone second after a 4-0 home win over Ballymoney while Rainey have moved out of the relegation play-off zone after Alex Burns hit a dramatic winner with the last play of the game in a 3-2 victory over Banbridge.

Burns smashed a penalty corner high into the net off a defender's stick to complete a memorable week. On Wednesday, Alex helped Rainey Endowed lift the Belfast Telegraph Senior Cup for the first time with that dramatic penalty shoot out win over Banbridge Academy.

Saturday's result lifts Rainey out of the drop zone with North Down, 3-1 losers to Ulster Elks and Portadown, who went down 1-0 to Mossley occupying the bottom two places.

In Senior One, Lisnagarvey go marching on and remain hot favourites to replace the relegated top flight team next season following a 2-1 win over Victorians, both goals coming from Rachel Houston.

Meanwhile Ireland captain Katie Mullan is hoping her team can build on their recent progress when they face Olympic gold medallists Great Britain in three internationals this week at Bisham Abbey, on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

In their last series of warm up matches ahead of the World Cup in London in July, Ireland shared the spoils with Spain, winning two matches and losing two, after falling to a crushing 7-0 defeat in the first encounter.

They were due to play two games against Scotland last week but they had to be postponed until late May due to the wintry weather. But former Ballymoney player Mullan, now with UCD, is relishing the prospect of playing a star-studded GB side over the next few days.

She said: "I think it's my fifth trip to Bisham and the facilities there are absolutely fabulous so we will be doing plenty of training as well as playing the three matches."

"The aim will be to hit the ground running and pick up from where we left off in Spain. They caught us cold in the first game but we recovered well and showed a lot of character to end up squaring the series."

"We are really looking forward to the GB games which will be a step up in class for us."

Ireland will be without several members of their 29-strong World Cup training squad for the trip including Ulster players Leah McGuire and Lizzie Colvin, who are carrying knocks, along with Anna O'Flanagan and Chloe Watkins, who are unavailable due to club commitments in Holland.

In the men's Ulster Premier League, Bangor leapfrogged Instonians to return to the top after Chris Campbell scored both goals in a 2-0 away win over Belfast Harlequins. The result saw Scott Parker's side bounce back from a midweek loss to Inst and the title race is shaping up to be a real thriller.

Kilkeel were 4-1 winners over Mossley, helped by a double strike from David Finlay, to keep firmly in contention while, in the other Section A, top seven encounter, Portadown and South Antrim fought out a 1-1 draw.

Meanhwhlie, Ireland had to settle for sixth place at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia as an injury and illness ravaged squad fell to a 2-1 defeat against India.

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup (Ipoh, Malaysia) Final:

Australia 2 (B Govers, L Sharp) England 1 (S Ward)

Bronze play-off:
Argentina 3 (I Ibarra, G Peillat, P Ibarra) Malaysia 2 (J van Huizen, F Saari)

5th/6th play-off:
India 4 (V Karun 2, S Lakra, G Singh) Ireland 1 (J Dale)

EY Irish Hockey League:
Three Rock Rovers 7 (L Madeley 3, H Morris, P Blakeney, J Mullins, J Hoskings) Railway Union 3 (E MacArthur, M English)

Ulster Premier League:
Belfast Harlequins 0 Bangor 2 (D McClune 2)
Mossley 1 (J Robinson) Kilkeel 4 (D Finlay 2, E Agnew, L Russell)
Portadown 1 (J Curran) South Antrim 1 (A Glass)

Cliftonville 1 (J Allen) Newry Olympic 3 (C Henning 2, J Greer)
North Down 4 (J Gilmore, R Linter, P Templeton, J Moore) Raphoe 2 (J Long, A Meehan)
Antrim 2 (S Clyde, J Roe) Civil Service 4 (S Armstrong, R Anderson, T Priestley, M Johnston)

Irish Junior Cup Semi-final:
Pembroke II 4 (P Brownlow 2, S Furlong, G Sarratt) Banbridge II 0

EY Irish Hockey League:

Belfast Harlequins 0 Railway Union 2 (K Lloyd, K Orr)
Cork Harlequins 1 (C Sargent) Monkstown 0
Pegasus 0 UCD 1 (S Twomey)
Pembroke Wanderers 1 (S Quill) Loreto 1 (H Mulcahy)
Trinity 2 (E Noone, N Sweeney) Ards 0

Irish Hockey Challenge Semi-final:
Dromore 1 Blackrock 2

Ulster Premier:
Lurgan 4 (C Stewart, L Wright, S McClure, J Wilson) Ballymoney 0
North Down 1 (K Sinclair) Ulster Elks 3 (L Paul, E Clyde, E Quinn)
Portadown 0 Mossley 1 (K Smiley)
Queen's 1 (J McMaster) Randalstown 1 (CJ McDonald)
Rainey 3 (B Scott 2, A Burns) Banbridge 2 (P Haugh 2)

Senior One:
Ballyclare 1 (L McKinty) Omagh 0
Knock 0 Raphoe 2 (V Wray, E Harper)
Priorians 0 CI 0
Victorians 1 (C Houston) Lisnagarvey 2 (R Houston 2)

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