By the time Railway Union take the field at 3.45pm on Saturday, they will now exactly what they need, if anything, to claim their third women’s division one title.
As the final game of the 90 league games this term, it could prove the most important in a campaign in which UCD made plenty of early running but the Park Avenue side has rolled well with the challenges of the season to stay unbeaten.
Hermes are the opposition and could provide a stern test, especially as the Irish internationals were cleared on Wednesday evening to play this weekend.
It may come too late for some with Sinead McCarthy due to be back in England while other commitments may see not all of their half dozen back in the fray.
Audrey O’Flynn is definitely out with a broken jaw suffered in Belgium when bravely blocking a Raquel Huertas’ shot. She underwent surgery in midweek on the problem. Indeed, the Irish Times this morning suggested Lisa Jacob might be the only Hermes international to step back into the fray.
The same can be said for Railway who could welcome back Emma Smyth and Nikki Evans to add to an already free-scoring attacking front six.
How much relevance such returns or not will have is dependent on what happens in Milltown when Alex host UCD with Chloe Watkins a possible returnee. Should the students win then Railway will need a win as UCD have more wins – the gamebreaker in division one – to their name.
Caroline Hill and Sarah Greene are back after representing the Irish universities on their Scottish tour earlier this week.
Both ties will have a bearing on what happens in the race for fourth place and the final automatic IHL place for next season. Alex have the box seat and can welcome back a couple of their young contingent who were rested in the wake Alexandra College’s Kate Russell championship win.
Elsewhere, the other major issues of the season have already been decided with the jostling for seventh, eighth and ninth positions the sole movement likely.
Pembroke and Corinthian will duel for seventh with a win for the latter marking a fine return for their campaign. Glenanne play Three Rock Ladies in what is effectively a practice match for the Grange Road side as they build for their playoff with North Kildare.
Loreto, plugged in third, face a Trinity side guaranteed sixth in what will act as a good training exercise for the Beaufort club ahead of their major battles against Railway and Ballymoney in the cup.
Division two, meanwhile, saw Loreto II crowned on Monday night with Wendy Byrne on the mark twice in a 2-0 victory over UCD to edge out Pembroke II.
At the bottom, UCD II need a win against Hermes II to avoid the drop with two eligible sides available to move up from division three.
Botanic will aim to add to their division five league title, won last Sunday, with a famous double as they look to add national glory with the Irish Hockey Challenge on Saturday at Belfield. They face a Kilkenny side who were recently crowned South East Cup champs, making this a battle for the double for both sides.
Women’s Leinster Division One: Pembroke v Corinthian, 11am, Serpentine Ave; Old Alexandra v UCD, 1pm, Milltown; Glenanne v Three Rock Ladies, 1pm, Glenanne Park; Loreto v Trinity, 1.30pm, Beaufort; Railway Union v Hermes, 3.45pm, Park Avenue
Women’s Leinster Division Two: UCD v Hermes, 9.30am, Belfield; Newbridge v Loreto, 11.30am, St Mary’s, Naas; Railway Union v Genesis, 12.15pm, Park Ave; North Kildare v Pembroke, 5pm, Kilcock; Corinthian v Old Alexandra, 5pm, Whitechurch
Women’s Irish Hockey Challenge final: Botanic vs Kilkenny, 1.15pm, Belfield
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