Home advantage has counted for little this term in the marquee meetings between Railway Union and Hermes in the Leinster league this season as three of the four times they have met has led to an away victory.
Indeed, it means Railway will have few fears as they make the short trip to St Andrew’s looking to win their epic series of games and make huge progress in the women’s Irish Hockey League Pool A.So far, they have succeeded by a single goal in the league (4-3) and Jacqui Potter Cup (3-2) to have the bragging rights in Booterstown but the narrow margins – all four games between the sides have been settled by a single goal – mean Nasir Munir’s side can take little for granted.
Indeed, Hermes’ need is the greater following an opening day loss to UCD and the nature of this year’s draw makes this tie do or die for them. They were frustrated last week that they could not break down the students defence despite putting together a strong performance.
Railway warmed up for the game with a 3-0 win over Trinity in their final Leinster league game on Thursday night, Kate Dillon scoring all the goals to continue her superb season. Defensively, Emer Lucey could have the task of taming Aine Connery, perhaps the key battle in what is always one of the best match-ups in the competition.
UCD, for their part, travel to Catholic Institute looking to put a major dent in the Limerick side’s hopes of reaching a first Irish Hockey League semi-final. Insta nabbed a great comeback win in Galway last weekend with their key strikers Naomi Carroll and Katie Campbell the twin threats.
Johnny Harte says that he was pleased more with his side’s result rather than performance a week ago against Hermes and knows that this is a tough away trip on the calendar.
Lurgan and Greenfields, meanwhile, will be looking to get off the mark in what is shaping up to a really strong group with this tie representing the best opportunity for both to get a win on the board.
In Pool B, Loreto meet Old Alex hoping to make it three wins from three against the Milltown club this season in one of two all-Leinster dates this weekend. The Beaufort club impressed in their comeback from a big early deficit against Cork Harlequins with Hannah Matthews lifting the result out of the fire with a double while Niamh Small impressed.
Alex were confirmed as Leinster’s fifth qualifier for next season’s IHL in midweek by virtue of Pembroke’s 2-2 draw at Glenanne. Rachel Maunsell was the one to break Pembroke’s hearts after Anna O’Neill and Kylie Deverell had cancelled out Saoirse O’Donoghue’s penalty corner goal.
Harlequins’ Karen Bateman and Rachael Kohler continue to play key roles for the club after glittering careers at Farmer’s Cross. They had initially returned from retirement with a view to playing seconds but they still have the nous and fitness to be serious players for Quins.
Whether they can hold out an Ards side in great form is another matter. The Ulster side are a game away from landing the Premier league title – albeit they must win against Pegasus – while their European indoor exploits have also shown their ambition to breakthrough on the national stage.An opening round win over Ballymoney added to their reputation with Chloe Brown and Naomi Elliott standout performers in their rapid emergence. This game could well be the one to look out for in this round of the competition.
Pegasus face Ballymoney hoping to extend their lengthy winning streak having won all of their matches since November 23 in the Irish Senior Cup against Glenanne. A week before that, they drew with Money, making this certainly a tie to watch.
In the Irish Hockey Trophy, Rathgar and Naas are flying the Leinster flag with the former hosting a Cork C of I side who are enjoying a decent season in Munster, lying in fourth place behind the established top three. Naas, meanwhile, face a long trip to Cookstown who are in the mix for a playoff place up to the Premier League in Ulster.
Women’s Irish Hockey League round two (Saturday unless stated)
Pool A: Lurgan v Greenfields, Lurgan College, 1pm; Catholic Institute v UCD, Rosbrien, 2pm;
Sunday: Hermes v Railway Union, St Andrew’s, 2pm
Pool B: Cork Harlequins v Ards, Farmer’s Cross, 1.30pm; Ballymoney v Pegasus, Joey Dunlop Centre, 2.30pm; Old Alex v Loreto, Milltown, 2.30pm.
Irish Hockey Trophy quarter-finals: Larne v NUIG, Larne, 1pm; Rathgar v Cork C of I, High School, 2.15pm; Ballymena v North Down, Ballymena, 2.30pm; Cookstown v Naas, Steelweld Park, 4pm.
Women’s Leinster Division One results: Glenanne 2 (Saoirse O’Donoghue, Rachel Maunsell) Pembroke 2 (Kylie Deverell, Anna O’Neill); Railway Union 3 (Kate Dillon 3) Trinity 0