Cork won the battle of the Harlequins in the women’s EY Hockey League as Darren Collins’ Farmers Cross outfit beat their Belfast counterparts 3-0 in Deramore Park to give a massive confidence boost to the new-look side.
Their first two league outings had seen two losses and two blanks in front of goal as they adjust to life without internationals Roisin Upton, Naomi Carroll, Emma Buckley, and Rebecca Barry this term. As such, the long trip north was an intimidating one, not least because Belfast Quins had started the season superbly with Gemma Frazer, Lizzie Colvin, and Zoe Wilson providing a dynamic spine.
But Quins’ leaders came to the fore in atrocious conditions with Yvonne O’Byrne immaculate up and down the park while Cliodhna Sargent was resolute bossing defence.
Quins went in front 22 minutes in via a snapshot from Olivia Roycroft from the right of the circle that deceived Marianne Fox. Belfast had several good chances but couldn’t finish while Linzi Hamilton saved a shot off the line to deny the Munster side a second.
The visitors added to their tally with breakaway goals from Michelle Barry and Zara Bowles. Bowles scored four minutes into her first-team debut since moving from Midleton in the summer having been an unused sub a week before against Old Alex, netting at the left post.
Belfast pressed for most of the last quarter, taking their goalkeeper off, but could not break down a staunch Cork defence. The win moves them off the bottom and up to seventh.
Elsewhere, Pegasus lead the way with the only perfect record after three games, beating Ards 4-0, while UCD saw off Loreto 2-0 thanks to two Abbie Russell goals.
In the second division, Catholic Institute made a great start to life on the national stage, beating Lurgan 3-2 with Upton starting the scoring while Kym Daly and Laura Foley had them well clear before the Ulster side fought back.
In Pool A, UCC fell 4-3 to Queens at the Mardyke, with Jessica McMaster’s goal seven minutes from time securing the win after a cracking battle.
On the men’s side, Cork C of I’s game with Annadale was cancelled.
Banbridge moved clear at the head of the table with a narrow 2-1 win over basement side YMCA despite a missed penalty stroke each.
It was the opening day of the EYHL Division 2 with the Munster entrants enduring tough trips north. Bandon let a 2-0 lead slip to regular rivals Bangor on the north Down coast.
Fionn O’Leary and David Jennings had them in control after 18 minutes but last year’s playoffs semi-final had seen Bangor prevail 5-4, and they used that knowhow to fight back to win 3-2, Rhys Cunningham eventually grabbing the winner.
UCC found Instonians too hot to handle with Olympian Mikey Watt scoring the first two goals in an 8-0 win at Shaw’s Bridge.