Women’s Hockey: Railway Union keep title battle in the melting pot

Meeting of Institute and Pembroke next Saturday looks key to outcome

Railway Union put a sizeable spoke in the wheel of the EY Hockey League title race over the weekend by drawing with leaders Pembroke Wanderers on Saturday before beating Catholic Institute on Sunday.

The upshot is, with three games to go, that Pembroke have a two-point lead over Institute, making the meeting between the sides at Rosbrien on Saturday week a potential title decider.

Either side of that game, Pembroke play two of the bottom three – Belfast Harlequins away and Muckross at home – while Institute finish up with Harlequins away but, before playing Pembroke, have a tricky away tie against an in-form Loreto.

The destination of the title, then, is anyone’s guess.

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Having won seven in a row, Pembroke have now drawn three of their last four games, Railway holding them to a scoreless draw on Saturday, surviving a Gillian Pinder penalty stroke in the final quarter that hit the post.

Institute, meanwhile, made it six wins in a row when Naomi Carroll’s goal decided their game at home to Pegasus, the Belfast club’s third successive defeat all but ending their title challenge.

Come Sunday, though, Pegasus effectively ended Old Alexandra's hopes of making the title race a three-way battle, Alex Speers and Lucy McKee putting them 2-0 up before Emma Russell's late consolation score.

Later in the day, Railway recovered from going a goal down to Jenny Clein's first-quarter score for Institute, Orla Fox, Lily Lloyd and Zara Delany putting them in charge before Aebhfhinn Bourke pulled a goal back for the Limerick side.

Whatever the outcome of the title race, Pembroke and Institute look safe for spots in the Champions Trophy semi-finals, with Alexandra, Pegasus, Railway, Loreto and UCD still battling it out for the four slots in the playoffs.

Hockey League – Division One – Saturday: Belfast Harlequins 0, Loreto 2 (S Torrans, Y Pratt); Catholic Institute 1 (N Carroll), Pegasus 0; Old Alexandra 3 (N Sweeney, E Russell, A Russell), Muckross 2 (S Quill, J Balcerzak); Pembroke Wanderers 0, Railway Union 0; UCD 4 (M Carey, R Kelly, K Egan, H McLoughlin), Cork Harlequins 1 (A Power).

Sunday: Pegasus 2 (A Speers, L McKee), Old Alexandra 1 (E Russell); Railway Union 3 (O Fox, L Lloyd, Z Delany), Catholic Institute 2 (J Clein, A Bourke).