O’Flanagan helps Muckross deny Catholic Institute a winning start

Carroll’s two goals help newly-promoted side claim their first point

Naomi Carroll: the Irish international and former Hermes and Cork Harlequins star scored twice for Catholic Institute in their first ever top-flight Hockey League fixture. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Rest and recuperation would appear not to be words in Anna O’Flanagan’s personal dictionary.

Just six days after playing her part in Ireland's Olympic qualification, she was back in club action helping Muckross to a draw away to Catholic Institute in the opening round of the Hockey League on Saturday.

And the forward, appointed assistant coach of the Dublin club during the summer after her return from playing in the Netherlands, chipped in with a goal for good measure in the game in Limerick.

Institute were playing their first ever top-flight Hockey League fixture having won promotion last season and looked well on course for all three points when they took a 2-0 lead in the first quarter through Naomi Carroll and Róisín Begley.


Muckross fought back to level, though, thanks to Kim Baker and O’Flanagan, before Carroll nudged Institute ahead again. But Nikki Keegan, a summer recruit from Loreto, snatched a late equaliser for Muckross to give them a share of the points.

Despite the disappointment of Institute surrendering their lead, it was a good day for Carroll who has returned to the club after spells with Hermes and Cork Harlequins.

Having amassed 110 caps for Ireland she just missed out on selection for the 2018 World Cup squad, named as a reserve for the tournament, and in the same month that her pals collected silver in London she tore her anterior cruciate ligament playing Gaelic football for Clare in their All-Ireland Intermediate quarter-final against Meath.

It’s been a long way back, then, for the 27-year-old teacher, who has also played camogie for her county and underage soccer for Ireland, but she will hope to maintain her opening day scoring form and force her way back in to the international reckoning ahead of that trip to Tokyo.

Elsewhere, reigning Hockey League champions Pegasus edged Railway Union at Park Avenue, Lucy McKee getting the only goal of the game after 44 minutes. But the team they beat in last year's final, Loreto, fell to a 3-2 defeat at Serpentine Avenue, Aisling Naughton settling the game for Pembroke Wanderers after Loreto had twice equalised.

Cork Harlequins came from behind to draw with UCD at Farmers Cross, Niamh Carey scoring on five minutes for the students before Nikki Barry levelled later in the first quarter. Back in Dublin, Old Alexandra kick-started their campaign with a 2-0 win over Belfast Harlequins, Rebecca Evans and Erika Hinkson getting their goals.

Hockey League – Saturday: Catholic Institute 3 (N Carroll 2, R Begley), Muckross 3 (K Baker, A O'Flanagan, N Keegan); Old Alexandra 2 (R Evans, E Hinkson, Belfast Harlequins 0; Pembroke Wanderers 3 (O Macken, E Horan, A Naughton), Loreto 2 (N Small, C Hamill); Cork Harlequins 1 (N Barry), UCD 1 (N Carey); Railway Union 0, Pegasus 1 (L McKee).

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times