Pembroke Wanderers opened the defence of their EY Hockey League title in style on Saturday when they beat Belfast Harlequins 6-1 at Serpentine Avenue, but Catholic Institute, who pushed them all the way last season, began with a defeat on home turf by UCD.
Pembroke will be hard pushed to match the achievements of the last campaign when they won both the Hockey League and Champions Trophy, and were only denied a treble when they lost to Institute in the Irish Senior Cup final.
But even shorn on Saturday of several of the players who were key to that success, they still ran out comfortable winners. Ciara Moroney’s early score was followed by goals from Sally Campbell, Emily Beatty, Orla Macken and Rachel O’Brien, before youngster Milla Fulton, who was on under-16 duty with Ireland during the summer, got their sixth. Jiwon Hong rounded off the game with a consolation goal for Harlequins.
Institute, meanwhile, had a rocky start to life after the departure of Dave Passmore, who was appointed head coach of the United States’ women’s team during the summer, former Irish international Eimear Cregan replacing him in the job. The Limerick side found themselves 2-0 down by the end of their first quarter against UCD in Rosbrien, Michelle Carey scoring both the students’ goals, and while Michelle Barry pulled a goal back for them in the third quarter, UCD held on for an impressive victory.
Impressive too was Railway Union’s scoreless draw against Pegasus at Queens, a game that saw Shirley McCay start her 22nd senior season for the Belfast club, while Loreto returned from the North with three points in the bag after beating newly-promoted Ards 3-1, Sarah Torrans, Caitlin Sherin and Rachel Kelly – on her debut after moving from UCD – getting their goals.
Hockey League - Saturday: Catholic Institute 1 (M Barry), UCD 2 (M Carey); Ards 1 (A Carson), Loreto 3 (S Torrans, C Sherin, R Kelly); Pegasus 0, Railway Union 0; Pembroke Wanderers 6 (C Moroney, S Campbell, E Beatty, O Macken, R O’Brien, M Fulton), Belfast Harlequins 1 (J Hong).