UCD snatch Hockey League title from Loreto’s grasp on final day

Ards are relegated alongside Belfast Harlequins

Come the end of the final round of matches in the EY Hockey League on Saturday, it was jubilation for UCD and heartbreak for Loreto after the students pipped their Dublin rivals to the title by a point.

Loreto had led the table by two going in to the final day, knowing a win over Pembroke Wanderers, last season’s champions, would seal their first title since 2009, when they won the inaugural competition.

But they endured a frustrating afternoon at Serpentine Avenue, the game still scoreless going in to the final quarter, and with UCD leading Pegasus 2-0 in Belfast they had no option but to go for broke in the closing minutes.

After taking their goalkeeper off, though, they conceded a penalty corner, one Orla Macken fired home with 90 seconds left on the clock. A crucial goal it was for Pembroke too, the three points it sealed lifting them above Railway Union in to the top six, earning them a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions Trophy.


Back in Belfast, Loreto needed Pegasus to stage a fightback in the last quarter, but instead it was UCD who stretched their lead, Sarah McAuley scoring with three minutes to go, adding to Katie-Jane Marshall’s earlier double.

After dropping points in four of their first seven games of the campaign, UCD didn’t have the look of a side that would end up challenging for the title, but just one defeat in their last 11 gave them a consistency that made Miles Warren’s side contenders. And now they’re celebrating their fourth success in the competition - which has undergone many a format change through the years - their first since 2018.

Monkstown, meanwhile, live to fight another Hockey League day, their 2-2 draw with Catholic Institute - when they came back from two goals down - combined with Ards’ defeat by Old Alexandra, ensuring their survival. Ards are now relegated alongside fellow Ulster side Belfast Harlequins.

UCD and Loreto go straight through to the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy, while in the quarter-finals, Old Alexandra will meet Pegasus and Institute will take on defending champions Pembroke in a repeat of last year’s final.

Hockey League - Saturday: Old Alexandra 3 (E Russell, A Heatherington, A Russell), Ards 1 (F Brown); Railway Union 7 (K Lloyd 3, L Lloyd, N Shaw, E Nyland, S Hawkshaw), Belfast Harlequins 1 (K Larmour); Monkstown 2 (S Moore, M Jerman), Catholic Institute 2 (N Carroll, R Upton); Pembroke Wanderers 1 (O Macken), Loreto 0; Pegasus 0, UCD 3 (K-J Marshall 2, S McAuley).

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times