Hermes sweep to EYHL title

by Stephen Findlater
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HERMES claimed the first European spot on offer along with the inaugural women’s EY Hockey League regular season title as their devastating form confirmed they will top the competition.
They lead the pack by 14 points having run up an incredible 13 wins and a draw to date. The win over Greenfields was comprehensive, racing into a 3-0 lead in the first quarter and a five-goal advantage at the break.
It was tough throughout for the Galway side who were without a number of regulars while their superb goalkeeper Sinead Collins was hampered by an injury, too, playing through the pain barrier.
In truth, it followed the same pattern as the other ties between the sides this season, Hermes racing into a 5-0 half-time lead and they scarcely looked back. They broke the deadlock in the seventh minute after good work from Nikki Evans located Chloe Watkins who made no mistake. Evans added a second after good work from Naomi Carroll – both players returning after injury – before Caitriona McGilp got Hermes’ third from close range.
In the second quarter, Sinead Loughran’s reverse secured the fourth before Ellen Curran scored from a corner. Greenfields had some fleeting attacks via Sorcha Minihan and Ellie Noone while Trish Garrett drew a fine save from Emma Gray.
Hermes always had the extra gear, however, and added another three goals in the third quarter via Sarah Greene’s deflection, Chloe Watkins from an Evans’ assists, and Curran’s second of the day.
Carroll completed the win with ten minutes remaining before Watkins missed a penalty stroke with two minutes left that would have brought the result to double figures.
Elsewhere, Hermes benefitted from the resurgent Elks’ important 3-1 win against UCD, the one opponent that could have overhauled the Booterstown side who have also pinned down a Champions Trophy place.
Megan Frazer’s early penalty stroke was counter-acted by Elaine Carey’s 38th minute goal.
But two goals in three minutes – a cracker from Dawn Axon and a close range effort from Robyn Chambers – saw the Elks race clear. They move back into the top half of the table and back into range of the playoff places.
Pegasus moved up to second place with a 3-1 win over Cork Harlequins with Vanessa Surgeoner and Alex Speers getting the key goals in the second half. The Ulster side have strengthened their position at the head of a glut of teams covered by three points from second to fifth, all with a big interest in the playoff places.
Nicola Kerr’s goal saw UCC produce a hugely important 1-0 win at Serpentine Avenue against Pembroke to raise their hopes, once again, of possibly avoiding the relegation playoff tie.
They are two points off Ards whom they will play on March 6 in a potentially crucial battle to avoid that playoff place.

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