Anna O’Flanagan and Monkstown out to continue dream start

Women’s Hockey: Free scoring player has scored nine of Dublin side’s 15 goals in opening two games

Monkstown’s Anna O’Flanagan (right) has scored nine goals in two games. Photograph: Rowland White/Inpho/Presseye/

Monkstown’s Anna O’Flanagan (right) has scored nine goals in two games. Photograph: Rowland White/Inpho/Presseye/

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With 15 goals in their opening two games – nine of them remarkably scored by Anna O’Flanagan – Hermes-Monkstown opened the defence of their Hockey League title in some style last weekend. They should have a sterner test on Saturday, though, their opponents at Rathdown Pegasus, the team they beat in last May’s final.

The Belfast side also began their campaign by taking six points out of six, beating Ulster Elks and Pembroke Wanderers, a feat managed too by Railway Union and Cork Harlequins.

Harlequins were pointless after their first two games of last season’s League, but a batch of new recruits has strengthened their challenge, helping them to away wins over Loreto and Elks last weekend, goalkeeper Emma Buckley, the Irish under-18 captain, keeping clean sheets in both games.

Current and former internationals Cliodhna Sargent, Yvonne O’Byrne, Karen Bateman and Rachael Kohler still provide the experienced core of the team, but the addition of two more senior Irish players, Naomi Carroll (from Hermes) and Rebecca Barry (from Elks), as well as former German international Lina Geyer and Irish under-18 forward Michelle Barry (from Ashton), all of whom featured last weekend, has introduced both quality and strength in depth to the squad.

And soon to arrive is Roisín Upton who is completing a hugely successful spell with the University of Connecticut where she won a string of honours and personal awards.

Harlequins are away for the third successive game, Pembroke their hosts on Saturday, the Dublin side looking to get off the mark after losing to Railway and Pegasus last weekend.

Elks and Belfast Harlequins also suffered two defeats in their opening fixtures but one or the other, or possibly both, will break their duck with the teams meeting in Jordanstown.

Ards, too, are looking for their first point against a Loreto side that recovered from that defeat to Cork Harlequins to draw with UCD. The students are away to Railway who took maximum points from Pembroke and Belfast Harlequins.

SATURDAY’S HOCKEY LEAGUE FIXTURES

Monkstown v Pegasus, Rathdown, 2.15; Railway Union v UCD, Park Avenue, 2.15; Pembroke Wanderers v Cork Harlequins, Serpentine Avenue, 2.0; Loreto v Ards, Beaufort, 2.30; Ulster Elks v Belfast Harlequins, UUJ, 2.30.

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