Provincial leaders UCD and Ards looking for national progress

Leinster and Ulster’s current top teams UCD and Ards showdown in probably the most eye-catching of the second round dates in the women’s Electric Ireland Irish Senior Cup.

Ards were the northern province’s standard-bearers on the national stage last year, reaching both the Irish Hockey League and Irish Senior Cup semi-finals.

Audrey O'Flynn has scored in each game in November to date for Hermes Pic: Adrian Boehm

Audrey O’Flynn has scored in each game in November to date for Hermes Pic: Adrian Boehm

It is as a result of a lot of hard work at underage level to bring through homegrown talent with skipper Naomi Elliott and Chloe Brown the poster girls for that work.

In both final four encounters, though, they came unstuck against Leinster opposition with Railway Union and Loreto ending their bid. It has been 50 years since they last won this title.

They will face a Belfield side who have a few doubts over Nikki Evans and Anna O’Flanagan who both were forced to step out of part of their 2-0 win over Loreto last weekend with injuries but has a large squad to call upon in case change is needed.

Hermes’ ever-growing threat is set to give Railway Union another going over at Park Avenue after they picked up a big 2-1 win in the Leinster league a week ago. Audrey O’Flynn has got her set piece going with a goal in each game in November to date.

Last week’s win lifted Jaimee Claxton’s side to second in the table and inflicted a first defeat on Railway since March. With that background, it ups the ante for Emma Smyth and co for what could be a cracker.

After an incredible series against Pegasus, Glenanne will hope to repeat the trick against another of Ulster’s finest as they host Ballymoney as part of a double-header in Glenanne Park.

Money, though, have endured a tough start to the 2013/14 season and currently lie in eighth place with a number of changes to their panel. Megan Frazer has moved across to Holcombe in England while Irish underage international Robyn Chambers – who was recently added to the Irish senior training panel – is now with Pegasus.

Susie Sneddon and former Irish player Nikki Parke, though, have plenty of know-how for this kind of battle and were semi-finalists in this competition in March.

Greenfields' Elaine Hall will face former club Pembroke Pic: Adrian Boehm

Greenfields’ Elaine Hall will face former club Pembroke Pic: Adrian Boehm

The Ulster Elks and their Canadian contingent are up against Lisnagarvey at Jordanstown while Armagh against Lurgan is another Ulster derby date.

Cork Harlequins fly the flag for Munster as they visit an Old Alex who have gone off the boil since stunning Hermes early in the year and lie sixth in Leinster.

Experienced Irish international Shirley McCay is an important fulcrum for them but a return of seven goals in as many league games suggests Quins can cause plenty of problems if Cliodhna Sargent and Yvonne O’Byrne keep things tight at the back.

Both like to foray forward too and are key functions of the Quins short corner unit, while up front they have absorbed the loss of Acacia Taylor thanks to Orlagh Cotter’s rich vein of goalscoring form.

Pembroke face a Greenfields side who have stepped up from the Irish Hockey Trophy level that they won in the spring. Among their number are former national level champions Clodagh Grealy (Loreto) and Sarah McDonald (Railway Union) along with former Pembroke woman Elaine Hall meets her old club mates.

Loreto, meanwhile, will face a tough Queen’s side who made it hard work for the Beaufort side in the first round of the competition last December. But the students taliswoman Hannah McMillan recently picked up a severe knee injury and so will not feature for the forseeable future.

Electric Ireland Irish Senior Cup, second round: UCD vs Ards, 1pm, Belfield; Ulster Elks v Lisnagarvey, 1pm, UUJ; Loreto v Queen’s, 1.30pm, Beaufort; Pembroke v Greenfields, 2pm, Serpentine Avenue; Armagh v Lurgan, 2.30pm, Armagh; Railway Union v Hermes, 2.30pm, Park Avenue; Glenanne v Ballymoney, 3pm, Glenanne Park; Old Alex v Cork Harlequins, 3pm, Milltown

Women’s Division One, Tuesday: Glenanne v Old Alexandra, 8.30pm, Glenanne Park

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