Shirley McCay’s late winner sealed a hard-fought 2-1 victory for Pegasus over Catholic Institute which saw the Belfast side move a point clear at the top of the women’s EYHL standings.
It was a thrilling encounter at the Dub and evenly contested for most of the game, but Pegasus owed a debt of gratitude to goalkeeper Megan Todd who pulled off two outstanding saves either side of McCay’s 56th minute winner.
The hosts had the edge in the opening quarter without being able to capitalise on three penalty corners. From then on it was end-to-end stuff and Hannah Kelly shot narrowly wide before Naomi Carroll’s effort struck the post after a swift counter instigated by Leah Clery.
Pegasus broke the deadlock in the 31st minute when Lucy McKee scored with a first-time shot after a lovely passing move down the left flank.
Laura Foley went close to levelling for the Limerick side a minute later after a swift move which saw team captain and Ireland star Roisin Upton feed Eimear Ryan to set up the chance, but Todd made a fine save.
She was beaten when Carroll equalised in the 42nd minute with a carbon copy of the Pegasus opener, the Olympian firing home from close range after a flowing move down the left.
McCay — Ireland’s most-capped player — blasted in what turned out to be the decisive goal in the first minute of the final quarter, slapping the ball low into the net from her team’s fifth penalty corner.
Sixty seconds later, Todd again excelled herself with a fine stop after Foley had controlled the ball at the edge of the D before firing in a powerful backhand shot.
It puts Pegs a point clear at the top for the first time with UCD, Pembroke and Old Alex waiting in the wings. Belfast Harlequins had a rough outing at Loreto, falling 4-1 to remain in eighth place in the division.
In the Ulster Premier League, Banbridge continued their perfect record thanks to a 4-2 away win over Ballymena. Lisnagarvey, though, are a point better off thanks to a 1-0 win over Ulster Elks.
Ards lie in third place with Jess Ryan’s single goal earning them an away win over Queen’s.
EYHL Division 1: Cork Harlequins 0 UCD 9 (H McLoughlin 4, S Thomas 2, N Carey, K Egan, R Kelly); Loreto 4 (A Taaffe 2, N Torrans, C Hamill) Belfast Harlequins 1 (J Watt); Muckross 0 Old Alexandra 1 (D Duke); Pegasus 2 (L McKee, S McCay) Catholic Institute 1 (N Carroll); Railway Union 0 Pembroke 1 (G Pinder).
Ulster Premier League: Armagh 0 Lisnagarvey 1; Ballymena 2 Banbridge 4; Dungannon 0 Ulster Elks 6; Lurgan 1 Raphoe 2; Queens University 0 Ards 1.