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Lurgan miss All-Ireland place for a third year


By John Flack

Lurgan have missed out on a place in the Irish Hockey League for the third successive year after losing 2-1 to Muckross, who secured automatic promotion in Cork yesterday.

The Ulster champions needed to win their final game of the qualifying tournament to have a chance of going up but it wasn't to be.

Abbie McCullough gave them an early lead but the Dublin side hit back before the break and got the winner in the final quarter.

Earlier in the day, goals in the last six minutes from Charlene Stewart and Lauren Wright gave Lurgan a hard-fought 2-0 win over NUIG.

On Saturday, Lurgan had been left with too much to do after drawing their opening two games - 1-1 against hosts UCC and Old Alex - having been denied by late equalisers on both occasions.

Wright scored against the students, whose reply from Jenny Clein came with the last action of the game from a rebound after Suzie Taylor had made two saves at a penalty corner.

In the game with Old Alex, former international Lisa Jacob levelled with five minutes remaining after Jo-Ann Wilson had broken the deadlock with an early penalty corner conversion.

Meanwhile, Pegasus finished their regulation IHL season campaign with a 1-1 draw against Loreto in Dublin yesterday.

Irish international Nicci Daly gave the Leinster side a first half lead before Caitlyn Harvey equalised after the break.

The result means that Loreto qualify for next weekend's Champions Trophy and will face UCD with Pegasus taking on Cork Harlequins in the other semi-final.

On Saturday, Pegasus were too strong for Ards as they swept to a 5-1 win at Upper Malone, having already guaranteed their place at this weekend's Irish Champions Trophy semi-finals.

Taite Doherty scored twice in the first quarter and Michelle Harvey added a third with Alex Speers getting two after the break before Francesca Brown's late consolation.

Shirley McCay produced an impressive display as she made her comeback just three weeks after sustaining a broken finger and she will be a key figure in the game with Cork in the play-offs in Dublin.

Belfast Harlequins had plenty of chances in their game with Pembroke Wanderers at Deramore, despite being decimated by injury, but were unable to convert after Ashling Naughton's early goal which sealed the Dublin side a 1-0 win.

EY Irish Hockey League (Saturday): Belfast Harlequins 0 Pembroke 1 (A Naughton); Cork Harlequins 2 (R Upton, R Barry) Railway 0; Pegasus 5 (T Doherty 2, A Speers 2, M Harvey) Ards 1 (F Brown); Trinity 0 Loreto 6 (S Evans 2, S Torrans, H McLoughlin, N Daly, H Mulcahy); UCD 5 (K Mullan 2, S Clarke, S Young, L Tice) Hermes-Monkstown 1 (C McGilp)

EY Irish Hockey League (Sunday): Loreto 1 (N Daly) Pegasus 1 (C Harvey)

Provincial Play-offs (Cork): Saturday: Lurgan 1 (L Wright) UCC 1 (J Clein); NUIG 0 Muckross; Old Alexandra 1 (L Jacob) Lurgan 1 (J-A Wilson); UCC 5 NUIG 1; Muckross 0 Old Alexandra 0

Provincial Play-offs (Cork): Sunday: NUIG 0 Lurgan 2 (C Stewart, L Wright); Muckross 2 UCC, 1; Old Alexandra 1 NUIG 0: Lurgan 1 (A McCullough) Muckross 2

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