Loreto win takes them to the top

 

Loreto celebrated the official opening of their new pitch at Beaufort School in Rathfarnham at the weekend by going top of the Statoil-sponsored Leinster League for the first time this season, courtesy of their victory over Clontarf at Dardistown and Hermes' first defeat of the campaign against Muckross. Two goals apiece from Dearbhla O'Carroll and Elaine Goddard helped Loreto on their way to a 7-0 thrashing of Clontarf, by which time Muckross had secured a priceless win against Hermes, who had been hoping to open a 10point lead over the defending league champions at the start of the day.

In terms of possession and short corners won, Hermes had the better of the match at Rathdown, but first-half goals from Ciara McGrath (third minute) and Teresa Hurley (23rd minute) helped Muckross clinch a crucial victory. Zanya Dahl had levelled for the league leaders three minutes after McGrath's opener (all three of the game's goals came from short corners), but Hermes were unable to find another equaliser, despite dominating much of the second half.

Hurley, captain Clodagh McMoreland and goalkeeper Sandra O'Gorman were outstanding in the second period when Muckross were pinned back by intense Hermes pressure. "We're delighted," said O'Gorman, who was almost forced to miss the match after suffering from a kidney infection all last week. "To get five short corners and score two goals is very unlike Muckross, so we're absolutely thrilled. They had their opportunities, but they just didn't put them away today - they've got a very strong short corner team, but we defended against them very well." Muckross went in to the match still without a coach, following the departure of Ian Steepe at the end of last season. "Trevor Watkins is coming on stream at the end of February to see us through to the Europeans, but for now we're looking after ourselves," said O'Gorman. "Teresa and Clodagh are trying to get us all going, but really with a team like Muckross, as in many other teams, you have so many good international players there you kind of know what you want to do."

O'Gorman confirmed that she will be available for the Irish team this season, after taking a break from international hockey. "I want to get back and play - if selected - for another few years, I feel like I've a bit more to give," she said. Meanwhile in Cork, Trinity won a place in the second round of the Irish Senior Cup by beating Harlequins 2-0 in their rearranged first-round tie. Goals either side of half-time from Una Budd and Sarah O'Connor set up a home meeting with Pegasus, one of six second-round ties between teams from Leinster and Ulster.

The draw for the quarterfinals of the Irish Junior Cup was made at the weekend. It pairs Kilkenny and Pegasus II for a re-run of last year's final. Kilkenny will hope to make the most of home advantage to gain revenge for their defeat at Belfield last March.