Pegasus and UCD’s fate lies with Hermes

Electric Ireland Women’s Irish Hockey League, round five preview
Already through to the semi-finals, Hermes will still not lack for motivation when they travel north to meet Pegasus as the possibility of eliminating one of the strongest threats in the competition is a galvanising factor.

The last time the sides met was at last year’s IHL Final which Pegasus won and, since then, the Belfast side has won back the Ulster Premier league and the EuroHockey Club Champion’s Trophy.

But Hermes have been the stand-out side in the competition to date, accruing four wins and three bonus points along the way as their international crew have made their presence felt.

Their clinical nature in front of goal saw them home against a Catholic Institute side who offered much last week but could not find the killer touch. Lisa Jacob and Aine Connery, meanwhile, finished off from lesser chances to make them the only side to be through so far.

A win for Hermes would open the door for Leinster double-winners UCD provided they can overcome Catholic Institute in Rosbrien.

It is a tough trip to Limerick while Johnny Harte will hope his side can keep their composure in a clinch. Last week’s 0-0 draw with Old Alex set them back from Pegasus in the semi-final hunt with three yellow cards being shared by Chloe Watkins and Anna O’Flanagan.

Armagh host Old Alex with both sides are out of contention for a place in final’s weekend, offering a chance for both sides to express themselves in their final outing of the season in this final round of the competition before taking on the Irish Senior Cup.

In Pool B, it is a three-way tussle for the two playoff places with Loreto, Railway and Ballymoney all in contention on 14, 13 and 12 points, respectively.

The key tie is at the Joey Dunlop centre where Ballymoney host the Beaufort side. Megan Frazer played an influential role in their victory last week but 2009 Loreto hold the box seat, knowing a losing bonus point will be enough to progress to the semi-finals.

Railway, meanwhile, are lining up a third successive semi-final berth as they meet Cork Harlequins for the fourth time in the past three seasons, notably meeting in the 2010 final. Isobel Joyce and Emer Lucey have injury issues ahead of the trip south but the Sandymount side can hope they keep firing at the far end where seven players have shared 16 goals in their four games to date.

Quins will welcome back former member Julia O’Halloran to Farmer’s Cross but she’s not the only dangerous forward they’ll have to keep tabs on – four of Leinster’s top goalscorers this term – including runaway leader Jean McDonnell – are in Mick McKinnon’s ranks.

Lurgan complete their first IHL fixture series with a visit to Cork to play UCC for whom youth international Olivia Roycroft, spearheads the Mardyke side’s efforts.

The students’ season will be extended far into May’s exam season as their wildcards have been moved to May 18-20 due to Hermes’ presence in the IHL semi-finals, a headache which could also yet befall the Mardyke’s men’s side.

This is their last meaningful encounter before then, so they’ll want to finish their IHL campaign on a high to keep confidence up for the wildcards. Irish Youth Olympian Amy Kate Trevor is bang in form at centre-back but it’s been a while since College performed in a big game.

Sunday’s Irish Junior Cup final sees two sides meet who have never lost in a decider of this nature, Loreto successful four times in four finals while Pembroke have won the title seven times once they have reached the final.

Electric Ireland Women’s Pool A (all Saturday at 1pm): Pegasus v Hermes, Queen’s; Catholic Institute v UCD, Rosbrien; Armagh v Old Alex
Pool B (all Saturday at 3pm): Cork Harlequins v Railway Union, Farmer’s Cross; Ballymoney v Loreto, Joey Dunlop centre; UCC v Lurgan, Mardyke

Electric Ireland Women’s Irish Junior Cup final (Sunday): Loreto II v Pembroke II, 1.15pm, Belfield

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