Could this be the weekend? In the case of when rather than if Hermes will confirm first place in the women’s EY Hockey League, Saturday could well be the date.
While Greenfields have improved markedly in recent times, Hermes are more than likely to run up a big score against a side they have already scored 20 times against this season.If UCD miss out on full points at Jordanstown against an Ulster Elks side who have recovered some form recently, then the first European spot will be confirmed for the Booterstown side.
Indeed, that battle is probably the more interesting at this stage as teams scrap it out for second and third place – the guaranteed playoff places. Elks ran up ten goals without reply last weekend and it could have been more had they been more efficient from corners.
UCD have been one of the form sides of late with six wins from seven games lifting them up to second place in the rankings with captain Deirdre Duke scoring four in her last three games.
The sides drew 1-1 in their first meeting this season so this could well go down to the wire once again, especially with stakes so high.
Pegasus’s tie with Cork Harlequins is another tie with a big bearing on the playoff places. The Ulster side’s run of four wins was halted by Hermes last week but their incredible spirit to bounce back three times from a deficit to earn a draw shows that they have serious steel in their sticks.
They are in fourth place with Quins two points back in fifth place and they have little fear of trips north, winning at both Ards and Ulster Elks already this season in the league.
Cliodhna Sargent, Yvonne O’Byrne and Karen Bateman have been driving them on and another road victory could see them move right back into playoff contention.
Pembroke’s EYHL playoff hopes have fallen back in recent weeks and they will need a strong finish to the campaign to have any chance. They start their final four ties with a tie against ninth placed UCC who need points urgently to escape the relegation playoff game.
Ards, meanwhile, are in European indoor action for a fourth successive season. They will play in Dundee against the hosts at lunchtime today before meeting Belgian champions Pingouin this evening and England’s Bowdon on Saturday morning.
They find themselves in the second tier despite initially being ranked outside this level having lost all six games last year. When the Danish representative withdrew, they moved up as best placed reserve, however.
Ards captain Caroline Adams told John Flack in the Belfast Telegraph that they are up against it for a number of reasons: “I would love to see Ulster move to a similar set-up to the one they have in Scotland, England and most of the continent with a winter break and an indoor league format,” said Adams.
“It would solve the issue of a six-week long break and also any potential postponements with the winter weather.”
Women’s EY Hockey League (Saturday): Greenfields v Hermes, 2.20pm, Dangan; Pegasus v Cork Harlequins, 1pm, Malone Playing Fields; Pembroke Wanderers v UCC, 2.30pm, Serpentine Avenue; Ulster Elks v UCD, 2.30pm, Jordanstown
EuroHockey Indoor Club Champions Trophy (Dundee, Scotland)
Friday: Ards v Dundee (Scotland), 1.30pm; Ard v Pingouin (Belgium), 6.20pm
Saturday: Ards v Bowdon (England), 11.20am; classification match
Sunday: classification match