Hermes eye play-off place

by Stephen Findlater
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HERMES claimed their first win of the women’s Electric Ireland Irish Hockey League campaign last Sunday to rekindle their interest in the play-off places as they saw off the Ulster Elks 6-0 in Belfield.
It came a day after they had fallen 3-2 to Loreto in round two of the preliminary six-team group but the losing bonus point garnered there could well keep them in the mix should they win their remaining two ties.
In that Loreto tie, the Booterstown club twice fought back from behind but Niamh Small’s late effort eventually swung the tie.
It was close throughout with Loreto edging into an early lead capitalising on a defensive error for Nikki Keegan to finish neatly past Emma Gray. Irish international Audrey O’Flynn levelled when she netted low and hard with a drag-flick.
But the visitors were back in front when Hannah Matthews picked out Niamh Small who finished well on the back post. Again, Hermes fought back with Lisa Jacob finishing off a penalty corner move but the winner came when Nicci Daly battled her way along the endline and pulled back for Small to sweep home first time.
After that disappointment, Hermes were in the mood to make amends against the Elks and they wasted little time in building a lead.
In the sixth minute, Jacob found herself unmarked in the circle and flicked high to the net for the opener. From the restart Hermes went looking for the second and super work from Amanda Haslam teed up Jenny Kinch for the easiest of finishes.
Kerry McComish shot wide and Kinch volleyed over after a Jacob shot was stopped by the Elks keeper as Hermes pinned the northern side back.
And they duly extended the margin in the third quarter with Haslam, Jane O’Brien and Laura Pinder a handful prompted by Christine Quinlan and Jacob. Jacob scored from close range after good work by O’Brien and then O’Flynn finally nailed a penalty corner drag having seen two whistle wide.
Hermes devastating spell continued when quarter four resumed, Jacob scoring a reverse stick cracker for her hat-trick and then volleying home a corner rebound a minute later for her side’s Hermes sixth.
The game fizzled out thereafter with Hermes failing to convert further chances and Elks being denied by strong defending as they pressed for a late consolation.
Next up, Hermes play Limerick side Catholic Institute before playing a potentially pivotal game against Railway Union in the final group game.

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