With Irish internationals potentially missing up to four of the remaining women’s Leinster league ties, it looks set to be a helter-skelter race for the four automatic IHL qualification places.
Six sides are very much in the mix with Old Alex coming right back into contention for a ticket after their excellent close to 2014, going four games unbeaten, capping that run with victory over UCD.If they can replicate that against Railway Union on Saturday, their claims will be enhanced no end. Sally Campbell’s seven goals from midfield has been a key factor but managing her workload may be a balancing act in what is likely to be a busy second half of the season for th St Andrew’s College playmaker.
Eimear O’Regan cracked her fibula during the UCD game and is likely to be out for a couple of weeks but University of Indiana Hoosier Hannah McDermott is available on a winter break from the US. She joins sisters Chloe and Freya in the squad.
Phoebe Hopkins has arrived to Milltown from a season playing in Brisbane on her way home to the USA after playing her college hockey in Smith College, too, while Carissa Vorster, Jo-nelke Swanepoel and Lenthea Kamffer have made a big impact.
They host a Railway side who recorded a huge win over Loreto last weekend but will be without Kate Dillon and Emma Smyth who are with the Irish panel in Spain.
But they still have plenty of leaders in their panel with Isobel Joyce, Emer Lucey, Julia O’Halloran and Grace O’Flanagan while Zara Delany, Kate McKenna and Kate Lloyd are used to that winning mentality too. Sarah Canning faces her former club.
Loreto take on Pembroke in another key battle at Beaufort. The hosts will have to shuffle their deck with Nicci Daly, Lizzie Colvin, Hannah Matthews and Ali Meeke on Irish duty.
Bryony Biggam has come back into the fray after a five month injury lay-off while Hayley Mulcahy will become a key player having been part of an Irish development group since last November, training with the senior panel.
For Pembroke, Stella Davis is their Irish call-up but they are the least affected of the leading sides in terms of internaitional absences. Jessie Elliott, who played in the IHL final with Loreto a couple of seasons ago, is a high quality deputee on the Pembroke books between the posts.
Hermes push for the title sees them travel to Corinthian for the second time this season. The first meeting was rained off with the game very much in the balance at 1-1 in the second half, suggesting Rudi Wortmann’s team will not have it all their own way.He described winning the league as a possible “bonus” but that an IHL place was very much the primary goal. Emma Gray and Aine Connery are both out for the next two weeks on Ireland duty.
Trinity meet Glenanne in what looks to be a mini-battle for seventh and eighth place but they look to be too far off the IHL places but safe from the bottom rung of the table.
UCD travel out to North Kildare shy the services of Emily Beatty, Deirdre Duke, Nikki Evans, Katie Mullan, Gillian Pinder, Chloe Watkins and top scorer Anna O’Flanagan. It gives them a wealth of spots to fill around midfield and up front.
In their absence, Elaine Carey, Leah Ewart and Sarah Greene’s contributions will be key for an almost completely new look side.
In division two, Pembroke II host Muckross in a top of the table clash that could go a long way to deciding the title.
Women’s Leinster Division One: Corinthian v Hermes, 12.45pm, Whitechurch Park; Trinity v Glenanne, 1pm, Santry Avenue; Loreto v Pembroke, 1pm, Beaufort; North Kildare v UCD, 1pm, The Maws; Old Alex v Railway Union, 1.30pm, Milltown
Division Two: Pembroke II v Muckross, 9.30am, Serpentine Avenue; UCD II v Rathgar, 11.15am, Belfield; Avoca v Loreto II, 2.15pm, Newpark; Old Alex II v Genesis, 3pm, Milltown; Hermes II v Railway Union II, 4.30pm, St Andrew’s