Anticipation has heightened the tension as Loreto are finally set to travel to Pegasus for the highlight of the weekend in the Irish Senior Cup.
The Ulster queen-pins are in the rare position of not leading the Premier League but recent form suggests they are ominous presence with five successive wins meaning they are within one win of overhauling Lurgan after a stick start to the season.
The Beaufort side have been functional against the likes of Corinthian and Glenanne – winning 2-1 late on in the Jacqui Potter Cup in midweek – but hit the heights when tested by Hermes. The Glenanne win was left late. Cathy McKean broke the deadlock by Paula Fitzpatrick levelled ten minutes from time to make it a battle.
But McKean won a penalty stroke very late on and Nikki Keegan duly converted for a semi-final place in the competition. That determination, coupled with the quality of Caitriona Tipping and Nikki Symmons will be vital but Nicci Daly will be out with a broken finger.
UCD are competing for a third successive semi-final but they come in off the back of a 2-0 colours‘ defeat at the hands of Trinity in midweek – Eanna Horan scoring both the goals.
They will be slightly strengthened from that panel and will fancy their chances against a Cork Harlequins who have lost a number of players in the past year and are set to relinquish the Munster divison one crown for the first time in 15 years.
Old Alex have the unenviable task of taming Bridget Cleland’s Ballymoney in another high quality battle for a place in the final four. The other tie is in round two, the all-Ulster affair between the Elks and Armagh.
Three division one ties make up the local Saturday schedule – Hermes and Railway hoping to apply some gentle pressure on Loreto ahead of a big game on Monday at Park Avenue. The Beaufort side go to Railway in a top-table six-pointer. Trinity hope to build on that colours‘ win at Pembroke while Hermes face Bray at St Andrew’s.
The women’s Irish Hockey Trophy second round has an interesting match-up with former Irish international Fiona Manning coaching Clontarf against former Irish skipper Bernie Heffernan and national coach George Treacy from Ashton.
ESB Irish Senior Cup, quarter-finals: UCD vs Cork Harlequins, 1pm, Belfield; Old Alex vs Ballymoney, 1.30pm, Milltown
Round Two: Pegasus vs Loreto, 2.30pm, Queens; Ulster Elks vs Armagh, 1pm, UUJ
Women’s Division One (Saturday): Railway Union vs Glenanne, 1.15pm, Park Avenue; Pembroke vs Trinity, 2pm, Serpentine Avenue; Hermes vs Bray, 2.45pm, St Andrew’s
Monday: Railway Union vs Loreto, 8.10pm, Park Avenue
Division Two (Saturday): North Kildare vs Hermes, 11.30, The Maws; Our Lady’s vs Railway Union, 1pm, Terenure; TRL vs Pembroke, 2.15pm, Grange Road; Old Alex vs Muckross, 3.15pm, Milltown
Sunday: North Kildare vs Pembroke, 1.30pm, The Maws
ESB Irish Trophy, round two: Clontarf vs Ashton, 2.30pm, Mount Temple
Round One: Greenisland vs Galway, 2.30pm, UUJ