Cork Harlequins ended UCD’s incredible 20-game unbeaten run in Belfield as Roisin Upton and Naomi Carroll struck for an excellent 2-1 win to open up the delayed women’s EY Hockey League.
It was a result that required plenty of defensive grit, Emma Buckley making a wealth of saves for the Farmer’s Cross side, allowing two moments of top quality decide the contest.
UCD swept to the treble of national titles last season and showed strong early intent when Deirdre Duke scored in the first few minutes. Quins, though, were back on terms via Upton’s powerful low drag-flick to make it 1-1 at the break. She played an integral part in the winner, too, starting off a chain of seven passes that ended up back with her, facing toward goal. She slipped it into the path of Naomi Carroll who slammed home from the top of the circle, unleashing some of the frustration that had seen her miss the international summer through injury.
From there, they kept out a spate of penalty corners to hold on to the points and a great start to the campaign.
Elsewhere, the diverging fortunes of Belfast Harlequins and Hermes-Monkstown over the summer were put into stark relief as the former won 3-2 as Zoe Wilson and Lizzie Colvin settled into their side perfectly. The corresponding tie 12 months ago saw Hermes-Monkstown win 10-1 but the departure of Chloe Watkins, Anna O’Flanagan and Nikki Evans to European clubs mean their aspirations are much more modest this season.
On the men’s side, Cork C of I succumbed to a 2-1 defeat to Glenanne in their opening EY Hockey League tie at Garryduff with all the goals coming in the closing minutes.
The Cork side have seen a trio of players move up the road to Pembroke during the summer with the Dubliners fielding seven Munster men in their line-up to take on Cookstown. Alan Sothern was the star man in that tie with an early double while another import, Cedric Mushiete from Belgium, scored the crucial third in a 3-2 win.
In Munster, Catholic Institute continued their fine start to the women’s league with a second successive big win – 3-0 over Ashton. Bandon got their first win of the campaign as Katie Desmond’s double under-pinned a 3-0 success against Limerick. Bandon’s men, meanwhile, came from 2-0 down to beat Cork C of I B with the returning Clinton Sweetnam – after a year in Vancouver – scoring one and setting up another in a 3-2 win.
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