Hermes’ hopes on two of the three fronts they are still fighting will have defining battles in the space 36 hours as they travel north on Saturday to contest their Irish Senior Cup quarter-final.
Then, on Monday, they host Railway Union at St Andrew’s where a win would rule for the Booterstown hosts would end Railway’s two-year reign as Leinster champions. It is a tough schedule, one which will test their panel to the limit.
The Elks are a coming force in Ulster and while they look likely to just miss out on an IHL place this season, their ambition can be seen in the past couple of years through the players they have been able to attract.
Irish internationals Shirley McCay and Emma Clarke are recent alumni while French international Philipine Berly and Commonwealth gold medallist Suman Bala are others to grace the jersey.
Hermes travel to UUJ for that tie, competing for a semi-final date with Ballymoney, before letting their international contingent rest for the Railway tie.
It is the nature of the CPP setup that top players will miss key games but it is a strange situation to have 11 current full internationals absent for such a big tie.
Both clubs have shown the ability to roll with such blows – Railway completing the Jacqui Potter Cup win while Hermes recently stormed past Loreto. In such games, the likes of Kate Dillon and Jenny Burke become central figures. Loreto’s bid for the title is also put to the test on Monday night, facing Old Alex for the second successive week.
Caitriona Tipping’s return was a vital component in that success but Alex, in their final game of the season, may well have plenty of motivation as three points should be needed to keep an automatic IHL place alive.
Before that, Loreto face UCD on Saturday afternoon with their internationals available and are the only side in the top three for whom this event is priority number one.
Again, it is a tester against a student side bidding for fourth; they will have half an eye on the Senior Cup as they find out whether they will travel to either Lurgan or Pegasus. Glenanne face Trinity in a straight contest for seventh place.
The first three Leinster ladies divisional finals take place on Sunday in Grange Road. Swords contest the division ¾ cup and are one of the stories of the season in these competitions. Coached by Ciaran McNamara, the ALSAA-side initially struggled following promotion to division four, waiting until their tenth league game – in February – before recording their first win of the campaign.
But five league wins saw them rise to sixth in the division and produce fireworks in the cup, beating UCD II, runaway leaders of the division above, on penalty strokes.
Naas, too, are an unlikely finalist with division three form disparate compared to their cup form, making for an intriguing final.
In the division 9/10 contest, Avoca II are going for a double when they face Corinthian V as are Skerris IV in the division 13/14 contest.
On a busy weekend of finals, Limerick play Dungarvan in the Irish Hockey Challenge final at Belfield while a day later Portadown play Lisnagarvey in the Irish Hockey Trophy final.
ESB Electric Women’s Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals, Saturday:
Women’s Leinster Division One, Saturday: Trinity vs Glenanne, 11am, Santry; Old Alexandra vs Bray,1.15pm, Milltown; Loreto vs UCD, 1.45pm, Beaufort Monday: Hermes vs Railway Union, TBC, St Andrews; Old Alex vs Loreto, 8.15pm, Milltown
Division Two, Saturday: Three Rock Ladies vs Old Alex, 11am, Grange Road; Pembroke vs Railway Union, 12.30pm; Loreto vs Muckross, 3.15pm, Beaufort; Our Lady’s vs North Kildare, 3.30pm, Templeogue
ESB Electric Women’s Irish Hockey Challenge final, Saturday: Limerick vs Dungarvan, 3.30pm, Belfield ESB Electric Women’s Irish Hockey Trophy final, Sunday: Portadown vs Lisnagarvey, 3.30pm, Belfield
Leinster Ladies Cup finals, Sunday (all at Grange Road):
Division 3/4: Naas vs Swords, 2pm, front pitch Division 9/10: Corinthian V vs Avoca II, 4pm, front pitch Division 13/14: Skerries IV vs Dalkey III, 2.30pm, back pitch
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