Anna O’Flanagan’s incredible scoring prowess proved the difference as Hermes-Monkstown stayed hot on the heels of UCD thanks to a narrow 2-1 win over Railway Union.
Hermes-Monkstown had lost 4-0 to Railway in the Jacqui Potter Cup without their international contingent six days earlier but they bounced back with a hard fought result.
O’Flanagan struck twice to raise her tally to 32 for the season, 19 clear of the next highest scorer – UCD’s Katie Mullan – across the elite level competitions in Ireland.
It built a 2-0 advantage before Railway fought back with a late flurry of attacks but could only muster an Emma Smyth goal in reply.
UCD, meanwhile, retained their slender one-point lead, albeit with an extra game played, with a 4-1 success against Pembroke with Deirdre Duke netting twice.
All the goals came in the first half with Mullan and Duke on the mark in the first quarter.
Sarah O’Loughlin stretched the advantage to 3-0 before Eanna Horan and Duke swapped goals for the final result.
Pegasus and Ards both kept their interest in a potential EY Champions Trophy playoff place with single-goal wins over Loreto and Ulster Elks, respectively.
For Pegs, Rachel McMillan’s early goal was the difference at Beaufort.
She scored from a well-worked corner to set them on course for victory.
From there, both sides had major moments of pressure but the Ulster side kept their nerve to record a 1-0 victory.
Ards, meanwhile, condemned Ulster Elks to a fifth successive defeat as Tamara Macleod and Chloe Brown struck in quick succession to run up a 2-1 victory.
The result gets them within five points of Loreto with a game in hand in a condensed midfield.
Pegasus also have a game in lieu to play which could see them overhaul Loreto while Railway Union are also in the mix for the fourth playoff place after a good start to the season.