For a second year running, Hermes and Loreto showdown for the second place in the IHL semi-finals after Pegasus took the first spot last week.
Loreto’s loss in Limerick to Catholic Institute has put them at a major disadvantage ahead of their game at Belfield. Both have internationals from this week’s trip to Bisham Abbey available once more with Hermes welcoming Audrey O’Flynn, Sinead McCarthy, Lisa Jacob and Emma Gray.
Loreto have Nicci Daly back in the fold and will need to repeat their 3-1 league win – crucially needing to have two goals to spare due to Hermes’ superior goal-difference.
Institute have an outside chance of earning a semi-final place at the first attempt but it is one requiring a very precise contingent result, requiring Loreto to win by exactly two goals and then earn a bonus point from their game at already eliminated UCC. Pegasus probably need just a losing bonus point to guarantee top of the group.
In Pool B, the table should be virtually done and dusted qualification-wise. Should Ards shock recently-crowned Jacqui Potter and reigning IHL champions Railway Union, then its all to play for at the other grounds.
Both need big wins over UCD and Cork Harlequins, respectively, to make up the goal-difference deficit. Jean McDonnell, Julia O’Halloran, Emma Smyth, Alex Speers and Nikki Evans can be added to Thursday’s cup winning team for whom the likes of the youthful Kate Lloyd and Orla Macken stepped up to the mark.
UCD are already through so how much store they pay in their trip north remains to be seen, especially after a short turnaround time. Chloe Watkins and Niamh Atcheler were not involved in either the Irish panel or the cup final but could add extra options if available. Ballymoney need to get their big win in Farmer’s Cross.
In Leinster, three league ties take place with Old Alex able to guarantee a top five finish should they get the better of Pembroke who have an injury worry over Katherine Duff. Corinthian host Trinity and Glenanne welcome Bray.
In division two, Three Rock Ladies and North Kildare have a big showdown in the race to be the top first team in the table and edge closer to a promotion/relegation playoff.
Sunday sees the semi-finals of Irish Junior Cup with Leinster represented by division two, three and four sides. Division three champions UCD hope to cause a shock against 2009 finalists Railway Union who are currently riding high a division above.
Their side, captained by Elaine Collins, have shown huge hunger for a battle, winning a large proportion of their games by a single goal with Emily Menzies, Sarah Woodroofe and Amy O’Connor key players.
Rachel O’Reilly also is eligible from their first’s list to bring her electric pace to bear. For Railway, juggling a panel which has so many big games – Old Alex in division one on Monday – could cause a bit of chopping and changing.
Trinity, though, are the lowest ranked side in the competition but have moved to within two points of the division four crown which they could earn on Saturday afternoon. Ulster Junior One mid-table side Lisnagarvey travel to Santry on Sunday.
Women’s Irish Hockey League
Pool A: UCC vs Catholic Institute, 2.45pm, The Mardyke; Hermes vs Loreto, 2.45pm, Belfield; Pegasus vs Belfast Harlequins, 2.45pm, Queens
Pool B: Armagh vs UCD, 12.45pm, Armagh; Cork Harlequins vs Ballymoney, 12.45pm, Farmer’s Cross; Railway Union vs Ards, 12.45pm, Park Avenue
Women’s Leinster Division One (Saturday): Corinthian vs Trinity, 12pm, Whitechurch Park; Pembroke vs Old Alex, 12.30pm, Serpentine Avenue; Glenanne vs Bray, 2.45pm, St Marks
Sunday: UCD vs Corinthian, TBC, Belfield
Monday: Old Alexandra vs Railway Union, TBC, Milltown
Women’s Leinster Division Two: Hermes vs Old Alex, 12.30pm, St Andrew’s; Our Lady’s vs Pembroke, 1pm, Templeogue; Muckross vs Genesis, 2pm, Teresians; TRL vs North Kildare, 2.15pm, Grange Road; Railway Union vs Loreto, 2.30pm, Park Avenue
ESB Electric Ireland Irish Junior Cup, semi-finals (Sunday): UCD vs Railway, 4pm, Belfield; Dublin University vs Lisnagarvey, 3pm, Santry