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McCay returns to put Pegasus four points clear

 

Shirley McCay
Shirley McCay

By John Flack

Shirley McCay played through the pain barrier against her former club on Saturday as Pegasus made sure of their place in the EY Irish Hockey League play-offs with a decisive 3-0 win over Old Alex in Dublin.

However, the Belfast side are in pole position for an automatic berth in Europe as they have opened up a four-points gap over nearest rivals Loreto, who were held 3-3 by Belfast Harlequins.

McCay had 11 stitches inserted in a nasty head injury less than a fortnight ago but was passed fit to play after missing last week's win over Loreto.

She took another blow to the face when bravely defending a penalty corner in the first half on Saturday but fortunately she was wearing a protective mask.

After a scoreless first half, McCay hammered in a penalty corner in the 38th minute for the opener and they added two more in the final quarter, through Taite Doherty and Alex Speers to seal the win with just four games of the regulation season to play.

Last year's play-off champions Loreto threw away a 3-1 lead at Deramore as Harlequins fought back superbly to snatch a point and do Pegasus a favour.

World Cup silver medallist Zoe Wilson finished off an excellent passing move to put Quins ahead but Sarah Clarke equalised from a set-piece.

Irish international Sarah Torrans cracked home a brilliant backhand shot and then made it 3-1 a minute after the break.

But Quins responded magnificently as Rachel Johnston converted two penalty corners from deflected efforts to earn her team a draw and keep their play-off hopes alive.

Ards have moved four points ahead of basement side Muckross after their two goals from Strathearn schoolgirl Harriet Platt secured a 2-1 comeback win over Pembroke - their first of the campaign which should be enough to guarantee them a relegation play-off. In IHL 2, Queen's booked themselves a place in the promotion play-offs with a 2-1 home win over Corinthian thanks to a double from Jessica McMaster.

In the Ulster Premier League, goals from Emma Quinn and Chloe Mitchell gave Ulster Elks a 2-0 win over Mossley while Stef McCullough hit a hat-trick for Banbridge in their 7-1 success over Rainey.

IHL: Belfast Harlequins 3 (R Johnston 2, Z Wilson) Loreto 3 (S Torrans 2, S Clarke); Muckross 1 (R Cuddy) Cork Harlequins 2 (Y O'Byrne, R Barry); Old Alexandra 0 Pegasus 3 (S McCay, T Doherty, A Speers); Pembroke 1 (A Naughton) Ards 2 (H Platt 2); Railway 1 (K Lloyd) UCD 2 (A Russell, B Barr)

IHL 2: Pool 1: Queen's 2 (J McMaster 2) Corinthian 1 (N Torrans); UCC 0 Trinity 3 (A Long 2, E Markey). Pool 2: Lurgan 5 (J-A Reid 2, O Gibson 2, L Wright) Dungannon 2 (K Elliott, E Greenway)

Ulster Premier: Banbridge 7 (S McCullough 3, P Haugh, S Mount, O Berry, S Bann) Rainey 1; Ulster Elks 2 (E Quinn, C Mitchell) Mossley 0

Senior 1: Club KV 3 (J Orr, R Hewitt, A Hill) Coleraine 2 (K Caithness, C McNickle); Omagh 9 (A Buchanan 3, E Shortt 2, E Hamilton 2, D Darragh, L Long) Castle 2 (L Passmore, L McClurg).

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