Title race tightens after Institute and Pegasus defeats

Loreto go three points clear at the top of the table but just five points separates top five

Defeats for EY Hockey League title contenders Catholic Institute and Pegasus on Saturday added further spice to what was already a lively battle for the crown. The results see Loreto now three points clear of the chasing pack but with just five points separating the top five in the table.

Goal difference could yet prove crucial in the title chase, a factor that will have left Loreto frustrated by the concession of two goals away to Belfast Harlequins in their 4-2 win, the Dublin side having led 3-0, with Siofra O’Brien scoring a hat-trick.

UCD, now up to second, might also rue shipping three second-half goals in their 5-3 win at Monkstown, having taken a 4-0 lead early in the third quarter. But they at least got back to winning ways after last week’s shock home defeat by Ards.

Institute, who lost 3-0 away to defending champions Pembroke Wanderers, and Old Alexandra, 2-0 winners away to Pegasus thanks to an Abbie Russell double, are level on 22 points with UCD, Pembroke and Pegasus two points behind.

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Railway Union, meanwhile, lifted themselves out of the bottom two by beating Ards 4-2, but the scrap to avoid that second relegation spot – with Belfast Harlequins almost certain to go down – remains a tight one, Railway and Monkstown just a point clear of Ards. Railway, though, have three games in hand on their rivals.

Hockey League – Saturday: Monkstown 3 (O Brady, C O Reilly, C Watkins), UCD 5 (L Crowe, G Keane 2, S Cole, M Carey); Belfast Harlequins 2 (K Welshman, J Kee), Loreto 4 (S O’Brien 3, S Torrans); Pembroke Wanderers 3, Catholic Institute 0; Ards 2, Railway Union 4; Pegasus 0, Old Alexandra 2 (A Russell 2).

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