Its judgement weekend in women’s Leinster division one with a potentially tumultuous weekend for title chasers UCD, Hermes and Railway Union with their potential fate intertwined as the top sides will all meet over a busy weekend of nine league ties.
UCD are in pole position but face third place Railway Union on Saturday before going on to play fourth place Loreto on Sunday. The first of those could be the potential game-breaker for the students in their bid for three in-a-row and will eliminate Railway’s chances.
When the sides met earlier this term, Galway girls Michelle Carey and Brenda Flannery salvaged what has proven to be a vital draw at Park Avenue after Railway had built a 2-0 lead. It was in stark contrast to the four goal comeback Railway produced in the Leinster league last term and had a strong psychological impact.
Railway will be without Holly Jenkinson who has returned to San Francisco for work reasons while Rachel Barnett continues in goal with Irish international Grace O’Flanagan in Sydney on placement.
Taming the triple threat of Nikki Evans, Anna O’Flanagan and Deirdre Duke is going to be a key task, the trio having scored 31 goals in the league to date despite all missing games due to international commitments.
For the Sandymount side, Kate Dillon has been their taliswoman this season with ten goals from midfield while powering their midfield alongside Emma Smyth. The meetings of the sides tend to be shoot-outs so this could be another cracker.
Waiting in the wings for any dropped points there are Hermes who will expect to land three of their own on Saturday when they meet Trinity. Aine Connery has been superb since returning to the club, landing 14 goals this season, while Jaimee Claxton’s side have the best defence in the league that makes a surprise tough to foresee despite Trinity’s decent form this season.
Hermes will be hoping that UCD falter moreso than Railway as they will have the chance on Sunday to eliminate the latter when they meet at St Andrew’s on Sunday, making for an intriguing weekend all round.
Similarly, the destination of the fifth Irish Hockey League space faces a crucial date as Pembroke meet Old Alex at Serpentine Avenue. When the former won 1-0 in Milltown earlier this term, it was the first time a side from the previous season’s top five had lost to a club from the bottom half in over three seasons.
Since then, results have been nip and tuck throughout the campaign with Alex nudging ahead by two points with four games to go this season. Expect it to be tight and tense with both sides playing out games that have, by quite a way, the least amount of goals per game compared to the other teams in the division.
Erika Hinkson will hope to bring some of her interpro form to the table after an excellent set of performances for Leinster as a roaming sweeper though her skills will be well known to Pembroke coaches Keith Crawford and Chris Tyrrell.
Beyond this tie, the two clubs have a similar run-in with Pembroke’s game against Glenanne snowed off in midweek, making this a battle that could still go down to the wire no matter what the result on Saturday but it is certainly the key game. Pembroke host Corinthian while Old Alex play Glenanne on Sunday.
Both North Kildare and Corinthian will be hoping they can take advantage of opposition with not many immediate concerns from their final games of the season. For Kildare, they play an already safe Glenanne in Tallaght with Lucy Small facing her former club.
They will be looking for more of the hustle from their Trinity win than their galling defeat to Loreto. The Beaufort side face Corinthian at Whitechurch Park with a top four place assured but the title pretty much out of reach.
In division two, Pembroke II’s title charge was slowed temporarily on Wednesday by the weather as their game at Three Rock was called off due to the red weather alert. Nonetheless, their 11-point lead with a game in hand means it is a case of when rather than if Ronan Flannery and Patrick Good’s side claim the title.
They face Hermes II in the early game on Saturday on home turf. Muckross will hope to progress their playoff hopes as they line out against bottom-placed Trinity while Genesis will be looking to build on their midweek win over UCD II when they meet Old Alex II.
The Irish Hockey Trophy third round sees five Leinster sides in action around the country.
Women’s Leinster Division One
Saturday: Glenanne vs North Kildare, 12.30pm, Glenanne Park; Trinity vs Hermes, 2pm, Wesley College; Pembroke vs Old Alex, 3.30pm, Serpentine Avenue; Corinthian vs Loreto, 3.45pm, Whitechurch Park; UCD vs Railway Union, 4.15pm, Belfield
Sunday: Pembroke vs Corinthian, 3pm, Serpentine Avenue; Hermes vs Railway Union, 3.30pm, St Andrews; Old Alex vs Glenanne, 3.30pm, Milltown; UCD vs Loreto, 4pm, Belfield
Division Two: Pembroke II vs Hermes II, 9.30am, Serpentine Avenue; Muckross vs Trinity II, 11am, Teresian School; Loreto II vs UCD II, 1pm, Beaufort; Railway Union II vs Three Rock Ladies, 2pm, Park Avenue; Genesis vs Old Alex II, 2.30pm, Belfield
Women’s Irish Hockey Trophy, round three (Saturday): NICS vs Larne, 1pm,Stormont; NUIG vs Omagh, 1.30pm, Dangan; Our Lady’s vs North Down, 1.30pm, Templeogue; Avoca vs Cork C of I, 2pm, Newpark; Naas vs Bandon, 2pm, Caragh Road; Ballymena vs Monkstown, 2.30pm, Ballymena; Dromore vs Rathgar, 2.30pm, Dromore; Cookstown vs Portadown, 4pm, Coolnafranky