Half-dozen Leinster sides begin ISC campaigns

Loreto face a potential banana-skin at Beaufort as Queen’s University come visiting for a repeat of last season’s Electric Ireland Irish Senior semi-final in rude health.

While that tie ended up something of a damp squib, the Belfast students have shown it was no flash in the pan in recent times, picking up draws at both of Ulster’s regular challengers Pegasus and Ballymoney.

Eight of their number received Irish universities trials earlier this week after their run to the Intervarsity final with key players Hannah McMillan and Joanne Orr joined on the list by underage international Katie Morris and Rachel Mulligan.

Whether they can match a Loreto-side who have blitzed the early phases of the Leinster league competition and have Lizzie Colvin back in full flow in midfield will be a huge test for Queen’s.

Railway Union make yet another trip south to Cork Harlequins where they will hope for a few more thrills than their last trip which ended in a 0-0 in last term’s Irish Hockey League group phase.

Karen Bateman has retired for the second time while Antonia McGrath is now with UCC but they have cruised to four successive domestic wins in their bid to end Catholic Institute’s reign.

Railway travel without Jean McDonnell who is on honeymoon but there is still plenty of firepower to go around, especially with Emma Smyth and Alex Speers in the side.

Glenanne travel north to UUJ to play the Ulster Elks, an opposition they stunned back in 2009 when they came from 3-0 down with a Dearbhla Kieran double and one from Paula Fitzpatrick before going on to win on strokes.

The Tallaght club will hope for a repeat performance but will have their work cut out against another strengthening force. Kirstie Lammey is one of the Ulster survivors from that day and was once again named in the varsities trialists along with youngsters Vanessa Surgeoner and Chloe Brown.

The northern universities are both playing as part of a hectic week whereas UCC, UCD and Trinity – along with Pembroke, Catholic Institute, Ballymoney, Pegasus and North Kildare – all have free passes into round two.

Corinthian travel to Galway to meet IHA club of the year Greenfields whose progression sees them move up to this level of competition.

Old Alex meet newly-promoted Portadown in another cross-border battle while Hermes face Randalstown at St Andrew’s with both Leinster outfits taking on the mantle as favourites while Victorians host Ards in an all-Ulster tie.

Electric Ireland Irish Senior Cup, round one (Saturday, November 3): Hermes vs Randalstown, 3.15pm, St Andrews College; Victorians vs Ards, 3pm, Victorians; Loreto vs Queen’s University, 3pm, Beaufort; Greenfields vs Corinthian, 2.30pm, Dangan; Ulster Elks vs Glennane, 2.30pm, UUJ; Armagh vs Lurgan, 2.30pm, Ardmore; Old Alex vs Portadown, 1pm, Alexandra College; Cork Harlequins vs Railway Union, 1pm, Harlequins Park
Byes to Round 2: UCD; Trinity; Pembroke Wanderers; UCC; Catholic Institute; Ballymoney; North Kildare; Pegasus

** Draw for Round 2 will take place this Saturday at approximately 5.30 in the Glenside Pub, Churchtown

Leinster Women’s Division One: Trinity vs UCD, 3pm, Wesley College

Leinster Women’s Division Two (November 3): Pembroke v Hermes, 10am, Serpentine Avenue; Old Alexandra v Trinity, 11am, Milltown; Loreto v Bray, 11.45am, Beaufort; Three Rock Ladies v Genesis, 12.45pm, Grange Road

Women's Leinster Senior Div 2