Irish Hockey League: Ulster Elks beaten by leaders Hermes

By Nigel RinglandBBC Sport NI
Irish Hockey League : Hermes 3-1 Ulster Elks

Ulster Elks lost for the first time in the Irish Hockey League this season as they were beaten 3-1 by leaders Hermes.

The Dublin side stretched their winning start to the campaign to seven games and in doing so opened up a seven-point lead over the Elks and Railway Union.

Gemma Frazer replied to Anna O'Flanagan's Hermes opener before Chloe Watkins and Nikki Evans hit further goals for the Dubliners.

Pegasus beat UCC 3-1 while Ards lost 4-1 at Pembroke Wanderers.

The Elks made Hermes work hard for their win at St Andrews College but couldn't stop the favourites for the league title continue their winning ways.

With an all-international forward line, Hermes opened the scoring in the second minute when they swept from one end of the pitch to the other with Nikki Evans pass picking out the league's leading scorer Anna O'Flanagan who notched her 12th goal of the season.

The Elks responded strongly and only a good save from Emma Gray denied Kirstie Lammey after Megan Frazer's superb run and pass.

The deserved equaliser came in the 11th minute when Gemma Frazer intercepted and then finished the move by hammering past Gray.

Women's Irish Hockey League
Hermes3-1Ulster Elks
Pembroke Wanderers4-1Ards
Greenfields0-5Railway Union
UCD2-0Cork Harlequins

Both sides could have taken the lead before half-time but the score remained 1-1 until the 32nd minute when a drag flick from a penalty corner by Chloe Watkins restored the lead for Hermes.

The Dubliners asserted their dominance with a brilliant strike by Evans in the 41st minute and the Elks, who were without Ireland's most capped international Shirley McCay, couldn't respond despite forcing a couple of late penalty corners.

Pegasus moved up to fifth place with a second home win of the weekend over UCC.

Niamh O'Leary gave the visitors the lead in the second quarter and they had much of the play in the first half but after a stern talking to by coach Arlene Boyles, Pegasus ran away with the points after the interval.

Stephanie Thompson equalised in the 36th minute and then put the Ulster side ahead after a well worked switch at a penalty corner.

Hannah McMillan wrapped up the victory with six minutes left with another goal from a penalty corner.

Ards took the lead at Pembroke with a goal from Chloe Brown but mistakes cost them as Eanna Horan, Maeve Horan, Rachel Scott and Alice Ward led the Wanderers to a win that moved them into fourth place.

Railway Union are level on points with the Elks after a 5-0 win at bottom side Greenfields while internationals Gillian Pinder and Deirdre Duke were the goalscorers for UCD in a 2-0 defeat of Cork Harlequins.

Meanwhile, Queen's defeated Lurgan 2-1 to reach their first Ulster Shield decider for 50 years with a late winner from Joanne Orr after Kerrie Burns had cancelled out Tori Hastings' first half opener.

They'll face Randalstown in the Boxing Day final after they beat Harlequins 4-2 after going 4-0 up with goals from Jayne McGrillen, Nicole Moore, who got two, and Katherine McDowell.

Second-half goals from Katie Larmour and Lucy Geddes gave Quins some hope but Town held on to avenge their recent 3-0 Premier League defeat at Deramore.