Women’s Leinster Division One preview – words by Jack McCann
With the Irish senior women starting their three-game series with Spain on Saturday in Valencia, the top sides in Leinster women’s division one have to negotiate another weekend without their top players.
Darren Smith’s play their first games of a huge 2015 when they take on Spain in three games on four games following a week’s worth of training in Valencia.On home turf, for Trinity, Gavin Bourke’s side will look to revel in their colours’ rivals recent travails. UCD’s sticky patch in the league has seen them draw their last three games and they have not won in the league since December 6 last year to leave eight points behind them and the leaders Hermes.
With several changes last weekend, they drew against North Kildare, which gave them the Kilcock side their first point of the season. UCD will be looking to get their title defence back on track heading into the final part of the season.
Trinity – for whom co-coach Richie Pedreschi headed off to London this week – will enter the game hoping their quick counter attacks which worked well against Glenanne last Saturday can produce similar results at Belfield.
At Glenanne Park, seventh placed Glens take on fifth placed Loreto hoping to replicate their draw earlier this season. Glenanne will hope to earn a win that will not only widen the cushion between them and the bottom two but also closer the gap on the Beaufort side as they attempt to climb the table and earn an outside shot at an IHL place.
Loreto meanwhile will want to win their first league game since December 6 to keep the pressure on the top 4 and keep them in the mix come the end of the season for an IHL spot.
The last league meeting between the sides ended in a 1-1 draw, and it is set fair for the game to be just as tight again with the Beaufort side looking to Hayley Mulcahy, Niamh Small and Nikki McConnell for inspiration.
Up in St Columba’s, the second worst defence in the league host the second best defence as Corinthian welcome third place Pembroke Wanderers. Corinthian will be looking to get something out of the game so that they can close the gap on Glenanne and Trinity.
Pembroke will hope to extend their unbeaten run in the league, which stretches back to the end of November, to five games and build momentum ahead of their game against UCD next weekend.
Old Alex play host to the league leaders Hermes. Having beaten UCD at home in December, Alex will enter the game with hopes of being able to turn over the league leaders, who are joint top scorers in the league.
To get a result from the game Alex will have to keep a close eye on Aisling Naughton who has lead the way for Hermes with 15 goals in the league this season. However, Hermes have more than one goal source this season with the likes of Catriona McGlip, Rosie Carrigan and Sinead Loughran all chipping in with goals as well.Pamela Smithwick, between the sticks, and her defence will have to be at the top of their games to keep Hermes at bay. Alex will hope that Sally Campbell, who missed last week through injury, may be able to return to add to her seven goals so far this season as they look to get right back in the mix for an IHL place, after a slow start to the season, with a win.
A win will also give them a boost ahead of their second game of the weekend against Glenanne on Sunday, which has been brought forward due to the Irish Senior Cup.
Railway take on a North Kildare side who will be looking to add to that UCD point. The Park Avenue side, though, have notched two good wins since the turn of the year. The last meeting between the two sides ended in a tight 2-1 victory for Railway which will give Kildare some hope that they can get something out of the game but will have to get past the hugely impressive Maeve Weld.
Senior International test series (times local)
Saturday: Ireland v Spain, 4.30pm, Valencia
Sunday: Ireland v Spain, 4.30pm, Valencia
Women’s Leinster Division One
Saturday: UCD v Trinity College, 1pm, Belfield; Railway Union v North Kildare, 1.15pm, Park Avenue; Glenanne v Loreto, 2pm, Glenanne Park; Corinthian v Pembroke Wanderers, 2.15pm, St.Columbas College; Old Alex v Hermes, 3pm, Alexandra College.
Sunday: Old Alex v Glenanne, 2pm, Alexandra College.
Division Two (Saturday): Genesis v Loreto II, 1pm, St Raphaela’s; Hermes II v Muckross, 1pm, St Andrew’s; Rathgar v Pembroke II, 4pm, High School; UCD II v Avoca, 2.45pm, Belfield; Old Alex II v Railway Union II, 4.30pm, Milltown