Irish Hockey League: Ulster Elks relegated after 6-1 hammering by Loreto

Chloe Mitchell of the Ulster Elks
Chloe Mitchell and her Ulster Elks colleagues drop into the Ulster Senior League

Ulster Elks have been relegated from the Irish Women's Hockey League and will play in the Ulster League next season after a 6-1 defeat by Loreto.

The title race will go down to the last day after UCD and Monkstown both won.

Belfast Harlequins and Pembroke Wanderers remain in the battle to avoid the relegation play-off after defeats.

In the men's IHL, top three Banbridge, Three Rock Rovers and Lisnagarvey all won but Instonians inched closer to the drop after losing to Railway Union.

Ulster Elks players celebrate last season's Irish Senior Cup triumph
Ulster Elks' form has slumped after last season's Irish Senior Cup triumph

Elks exodus culminates in relegation

It's only twelve months since Ulster Elks won the Irish Senior Cup for the second year in a row and then progressed to the end of season play-offs.

However after losing a number of players last summer including Irish captain Megan Frazer they've struggled with only one win in this campaign.

A hat-trick from Jessica McGirr helped Loreto to a 6-1 win and meant the Elks couldn't force a final day relegation showdown with Pembroke.

The result also clinched fourth place for Loreto and they will join UCD, Monkstown and Cork Harlequins in the IHL Champions Trophy Play-offs weekend next month which means no Ulster involvement.

The battle for the title and to avoid the relegation play-off will go down the final day of the season in a fortnight's time.

UCD still lead Monkstown by a point at the top after both won - UCD defeated Belfast Harlequins 2-0 while Monkstown overcame Pembroke 4-0 with Anna O'Flanagan and Nikki Evans each scoring twice.

Neither side has lost this season but Monkstown have a game in hand against Pegasus next Saturday before facing UCD.

Belfast Harlequins not yet safe from drop

Meanwhile, with one game remaining, Belfast Harlequins have a three-point lead and a better goal difference advantage over Pembroke in their bid to finish eighth and consign the Dublin club to a one-game showdown to keep their place in the top league.

Pegasus produced an outstanding second-half performance to come from behind to beat Railway Union 2-1 with both goals scored from penalty corners by Hannah Craig while Cork Harlequins beat Ards 2-1.

Karen Bateman gave Cork the lead only for Rebecca Weir to equalise with the winning strike coming from Olivia Roycroft with eight minutes remaining.

After a three-week break while Ireland took part in World League 2, the men's IHL returned to action with the top three sides all winning.

Fraser Mills scored the winning goal for leaders Banbridge midway through the final quarter of a 2-1 victory at Cork C of I.

Three Rock Rovers are two points behind after edging Pembroke Wanderers 4-3 while Lisnagarvey are a further point adrift after a 4-0 home win over Glenanne with James Lorimer scoring twice and the other goals coming from Irish internationals Matthew Nelson and Neal Glassey.

At the bottom Instonians are seven points from safety after losing 6-0 at Railway Union while UCD were beaten 8-1 at Monkstown.

Inst have two games in hand on UCD and face Three Rock Rovers at Shaw's Bridge on Sunday.

Men

Cork C of I 1-2 Banbridge

Lisnagarvey 4-0 Glenanne

Pembroke 3-4 Three Rock Rovers

Monkstown 8-1 UCD

Railway Union 6-0 Instonians

Women

Loreto 6-1 Ulster Elks

UCD 2-0 Belfast Harlequins

Cork Harlequins 2-1 Ards

Pegasus 2-1 Railway Union

Monkstown 4-0 Pembroke Wanderers

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