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Belfast Harlequins confident of beating the drop after Kelly's late winner


On target: Claire Weir celebrates her goal for Belfast Harlequins

On target: Claire Weir celebrates her goal for Belfast Harlequins

On target: Claire Weir celebrates her goal for Belfast Harlequins

Alex Kelly's first ever senior goal has thrown the women's EY Irish Hockey relegation battle wide open after the teenager fired home a dramatic late winner in Belfast Harlequins' thrilling 4-3 victory over Railway Union at Deramore on Saturday.

The Methodist College student struck home a penalty corner with just three seconds remaining as Quins closed the gap on their nearest rivals at the wrong end of the table to just two points.

Although Railway have a game in hand, everything is still to play for and Kelly's last-gasp winner could yet prove vitally important as even a draw for the Dublin side could have sealed Quins' relegation fate all but mathematically.

However, team captain Linzi Hamilton isn't contemplating the drop or even finishing second bottom of the table and the play-off to stay up that would follow.

She said: "At the moment, we aren't even thinking about a possible play-off and, as we are gaining confidence, there are a lot of opportunities to build points from the remaining six games that lie ahead.

"We were very pleased with the win and I think we finally got the result we deserved for having performed well in the last few games.

"Three points are always important but I was very happy with us converting two out of our four penalty corners and the conviction we showed to secure the win."

Harlequins broke the deadlock with a superb goal in the seventh minute, Lucy Geddes finishing clinically after latching on to a great through ball from Julie Dennison.

The home team then doubled their advantage 11 minutes later when Claire Weir netted from a penalty corner deflection.

But Quins were rocked back on their heels when Railway fought back to equalise with two goals in the space of six minutes before the break.

Lily Lloyd got them both, first netting from close-range after latching on to a cross from Sarah Hawkshaw and then adding a similar effort in the 29th minute.

Quins regained the lead in the 64th minute when Jenna Watt hammered in a set-piece but Railway levelled within 90 seconds as Kate Dillon netted a fine goal after being set up by Hawkshaw.

Quins won two corners in quick succession as the clock ticked down and Kelly grabbed the all-important goal from the second award.

Pegasus' game with Pembroke in Dublin was postponed, while, in the Ulster Premier League, Queen's stayed top after recording a 2-1 win over Ulster Elks at the Dub.

Results: EYIHL: Belfast Harlequins 4 Railway Union 3; Loreto 1 Catholic Institute 1. Ulster Premier: Ballymoney 3 Banbridge 1; Dungannon 0 Raphoe 0; Lurgan 2 Lisnagarvey 2; Mossley 1 Ards 8; Queen's 2 Ulster Elks 1; Rainey 1 Randalstown 2. Senior One: Armagh 4 Club KV 0; Dromore 0 Ballymena 0; Portadown 2 North Down 5; Priorians 2 Omagh 1.

Belfast Telegraph