With the Irish senior women on a five-day training camp, this weekend could see some more unexpected twists and turns in the women’s Leinster division one title race with four sides covered by just three points with three games to go.
The key game on paper is the Dublin 4 derby with Pembroke hosting Railway Union at Serpentine Avenue with Stella Davis out for the former while Emma Smyth and Kate Dillon for the latter.The pair played out a lively 2-2 draw first time round this season in the lead-up to Christmas. Since then, Railway have conceded just once in five league games, and three in eight games overall, all of which have been won across four competitions.
The nub of their rise has been the integration of young stars like Georgina Spillane, the Heisterkamp sisters Anna and Nina and Grace McLoughlin. Allied to an experienced core, they are the form side.
Pembroke, though, will see this as their toughest test in the closing phases of the league and if they can win here, will be confident of a top four finish with game against Trinity and Old Alex to close.
Hermes’ title challenge sees them travel to Santry to meet Trinity who are fresh from their Colours win over UCD on Monday. Keeping tabs on livewire Sarah Quill is a big task along with Cliodhna McCullough and Anna May Whelan from midfield.
Hermes will be without Emma Gray and Aine Connery but they still have lots of firepower in 20-goal Aisling Naughton along with Caitriona McGilp (13), Rosie Carrigan (10) and Sinead Loughran (9) who are all among the top seven goalscorers in the province.
UCD face the last side to beat them this season, Old Alex, who stunned them 3-2 before Christmas. With several players on international duty, the vast turnover in players could prove tricky once again and Alex have ended a four game winless streak with a narrow 2-1 win over Trinity a week ago.
They are mathematically out of the IHL race but will see this tie as a shot to nothing.
Loreto travel to North Kildare without Hannah Matthews, Nicci Daly and Lizzie Colvin for what could be a battle to unpick a tightly packed defence.
Glenanne meet Corinthian where a win could see the former bounce back up to seventh place in the division while the reds could confirm they have escaped the bottom rung by Saturday evening if they get all three points.
The Irish Junior Cup sees a pair of Leinster derbies, starting on Friday evening with Railway Union and Loreto before Pembroke take on Muckross, the leaders in division two taking on second place in division four as the latter look to cause a giant-killing.
In Leinster’s division two, Old Alex II picked up their third win of the campaign in midweek with a 4-1 success over Rathgar with Phoebe Hopkins, Jo-nelke Swanepoel, Pam Smithwick and Sylvia Gilsenan – with her third in two games – all scoring.
It continues their busy spell, meeting Muckross on Monday evening while there are four other ties to be played over the next few days.
Women’s Leinster Division One (Saturday): Glenanne v Corinthian, 12.15pm, Glenanne Park; North Kildare v Loreto, 1pm, The Maws; UCD v Old Alexandra, 1.20pm, Belfield; Trinity v Hermes, 2.45pm, Santry Avenue; Pembroke v Railway Union, 3.30pm, Serpentine Avenue
Leinster Division Two
Wednesday: Rathgar 1 Old Alexandra II 4
Saturday: Railway Union II v Muckross, 1pm, Park Avenue; Avoca v Hermes II, 2pm, Newpark; Rathgar v Genesis, 2.15pm, The High School
Sunday: Avoca v Pembroke II, 3pm, Serpentine Avenue
Monday: Old Alex II v Muckross, 8pm, Alexandra College
Jacqui Potter Cup, semi-finals (Sunday): Railway Union v UCD II, 9am, Park Avenue; Hermes v Glenanne, 1.30pm, St Andrew’s
Irish Junior Cup
Second round, Monday: Portadown 1 Queen’s University 3
Quarter-finals, Friday: Railway Union II v Loreto II, 8.30pm, Park Avenue
Saturday: Queen’s v Lisnagarvey, 1pm, Queen’s; Pembroke v Muckross, 2pm, Serpentine Avenue; Bandon v Cork C of I, 3pm, Bandon GS