Railway Union and Ballymoney close in on semi-final places
Wins see sides take destiny in their own hands ahead of final round of matches
Claire McMahon of Pegasus is challenged by Hannah Matthews and Sinead McGirr of Loreto during their Irish Hockey League game in Queens University Belfast. Photograph: Rowland White/Presseye/Inpho
With one more round of matches to go in the pool phase of the Irish Hockey League, Railway Union and Ballymoney have moved in to strong contention for a place in next month's semi-finals, joining leaders Loreto and UCD in the top two of their respective pools.
Loreto still hold the advantage in Pool A despite losing their perfect record in the competition with a 3-3 draw against Pegasus, the Dublin side coming back from 3-1 down in the last quarter at Queens to take two points. Railway made the most of that result by beating Ulster Elks 3-1, a win that lifted them above Pegasus in to second.
Hermes stayed in the hunt for a top two finish by defeating Catholic Institute 5-1, Audrey O’Flynn scoring two of their goals, but they will need to beat Railway next week and hope Institute do them a favour against Pegasus if they are to progress.
In Pool B, UCD all but sealed their semi-final place with a 7-2 victory against Lurgan at Queens, Anna O’Flanagan getting a hat-trick, while Ballymoney moved above Ards in to second with another big win, Jessica Lynch their hat-trick scorer in their 5-1 defeat of Cork Harlequins.
Old Alexandra rose from bottom of the pool to fourth by beating Ards 3-1 at Booterstown, but with UCD and Ballymoney playing each other next week, the Ulster side, who meet Lurgan in their final game, aren’t out of the equation yet. Mathematically, Alexandra are still in contention too, but they would need to beat Harlequins and for Ballymoney and Ards to lose, and even then goal difference could deny them.