Lisa Jacob, one of the heroines of last year’s final, returns for the first round of UCD’s defence of the ESB Senior Cup as the enforced rest for international players ends on Saturday afternoon.
Cork C of I are the opposition but their status as Munster’s number two side is very much on the wane with Irish international Deidre Casey and Michaela Mihailou not with the club this year.
However, UCD are still very much bedding in with the new batch feeling their way into the season with three games in seven days. Neither performance against Railway nor Trinity had the fluidity of last year’s decider making this a tie very much in the balance.
With national glory the next target for Mick McKinnon’s Railway, a trip up North is usually a tough opener – especially in light of Leinster side’s struggles in Ulster last year in this competition – but Victorians represent a friendly enough draw.
Emma Smyth (right) is back in the fold for the first time since Amsterdam while Emer Dillon and Emer Lucey are both back for the first time this season. Isobel Joyce is unavailable so Kate Dillon will wear the captain’s armband.
The only all-Dublin tie sees Emma Gray back in line to play her former club, Trinity, with Hermes on home turf.
Corinthian, meanwhile, have a monster task if they are to emulate their run to the quarter-finals last year. Given a couple of heavy defeats at the tail-end of 2008/09, Pegasus may not be quite the imposing force they once were but still have plenty of artillery.
Alex Speers is now Belgium-based but there is still a couple of hundred caps involved, meaning Sarah Walker and her charges need a mammoth performance at St Columba’s.
Pembroke’s tie with Lurgan is pushed back to October 24 while the remaining tie pits the Harlequins of Cork against their Belfast namesakes. The competition provides Ireland’s second European slot for the 2010/11 season.
In domestic action, Loreto have their international trio Nikki Symmons, Lizzie Colvin and Cathy McKean available again after the enforced rest. They host Bray in a fixture brought forward from Sunday, February 21, reducing the club’s likely player deficit around World Cup Qualifiers, set for Spring 2010.
ESB Irish Senior Cup round one (Saturday):
UCD v Cork C of I, 1pm, Belfield (G Kotze, N Brislane); Cork Harlequins v Belfast Harlequins, 12.30pm, Farmers Cross (L Clifford, C Hassey); Victorians v Railway Union, 2.30pm, UUJ (L Morrow, D Acheson); Corinthian v Pegasus, 2pm, Whitechurch (J Beamish, L Callaghan); Hermes v Trinity, 1.15pm, St Andrews (Z Howe, G Garrett)
Postponed round one fixture: Pembroke v Lurgan (October 24)
Leinster Women’s Division 1 (Saturday)
Loreto v Bray 2.30 (Beaufort)