Hermes dominance over the women’s EY Hockey League is such that they could end the weekend with their rivals needing snookers with five rounds remaining.
That would be the situation if they win at Pegasus and results for Railway and UCD don’t hit the heights. Indeed, even if the chasers run up wins, Hermes only need seven points from their last six games to ensure they win the regular season.
This weekend, though, is probably their toughest test, meeting a side who have won five games in a row and are on their home patch. Suzanne Ferris, with 11 goals, and Vanessa Surgeroner, nine, have been firing this season and will test Sarah Greene, Christine Quinlan and Emma Gray’s defence. Thirteen different Pegasus players have scored this season so there are plenty of angles of attack.
Hermes’ route to goal may come from a smaller number of sources but is even more prolific with Anna O’Flanagan banging home 21 times, backed up by Nikki Evans’ 13 and Chloe Watkins 10. It suggests a tie filled with attacking endeavour.
Railway meet UCD on Saturday in a tie between second and fourth. The former have etched out a narrow two-point gap in the second EY Champions Trophy spot. Julia O’Halloran leads their scoring with six goals in the league as part of a fine season.
Deirdre Duke has been among the goals for the students with seven in her last five league games, the captain leading her team in excellent fashion with just one loss in that run of five games. UCD have a double-weekend, playing their back match against UCC at the Mardyke on Sunday.
Cork Harlequins and Pembroke’s meeting at Farmer’s Cross pits fifth against sixth with both sides hanging in the race for the Champions Trophy places. Quins won 3-2 in Dublin before Christmas with top scorer Olivia Roycoft on the mark but the Cork side’s form has been difficult to follow for the most part.
Pembroke’s form has been similarly split with six wins, six losses and one draw. Sarah Clarke’s five corner goals have proven their key threat.
Ulster Elks will hope they can finally end a run of six games without a win when they travel to the Mardyke to meet a UCC side in desperate need of points.
Elks will be shy the services of Rebecca Barry who sustained a nasty neck injury that required an ambulance last weekend, reducing their options further in a spell marked by players absences.
UCC need to find more goals if they are to escape the relegation playoff place with Antonia McGrath and Nicola Kerr their highest scorers with three each. Indeed, they probably need a win to keep in touch with Ards who face Greenfields.
The Galway side’s efforts were stunted last week as Brenda Flannery was not able to play a full part. They have a double-weekend, too, meeting the Elks on Sunday.
In the Leinster league, there are a couple of critical ties at the different ends of the table. The two sides yet to win after 12 rounds of matches come face to face with Rathgar hosting North Kildare with both sides looking to avoid the bottom rung.
Trinity, meanwhile, go to Old Alex looking to extend their unbeaten run to eight games in the league. Indeed, their last loss was against Alex back in early November. Second against fourth, this is crucial game in the race for the playoffs.
The students showed their mettle in a 2-2 draw against Loreto last week but this is the game they really need to win to get one over on one of their nearest rivals.
It’s a talented panel with Sarah Quill, Ailish and Jenny Long and Niamh Sweeney all products of Corinthian’s youth section while Sophie Marshall and Lauren Thomas are among a number of other key performers.
Loreto were slightly off the boil last week and will look to get their momentum back against Avoca. Glenanne have a tester against Genesis while Corinthian play Avoca on Sunday evening at Whitechurch Park.
The Glens beat Trinity in the Jacqui Potter Shield on Sunday via a Sarah Daly drag-flick to reach the final four of the competition with Serena Rush and Marie Goulding also impressing.
Women’s EY Hockey League
Saturday: UCC v Ulster Elks, 1pm, The Mardyke; Railway Union v UCD, 2pm, Park Avenue; Cork Harlequins v Pembroke, 2.30pm, Farmer’s Cross; Pegasus v Hermes, 2.30pm, Queen’s University; Ards v Greenfields, 2.45pm, Londonderry Park
Sunday: UCC v UCD, 2pm, The Mardyke; Ulster Elks v Greenfields, 2pm, Jordanstown
Leinster Division One
Saturday: Glenanne v Genesis, 2.30pm, Glenanne Park; Rathgar v North Kildare, 12.30pm, High School; Old Alex v Trinity, 1.15pm, Milltown; Loreto v Avoca, 2pm, Beaufort
Sunday: Corinthian v Avoca, 5.15pm, Whitechurch Park
Irish Hockey Trophy (all Saturday): NUIG v Wexford, 2pm, Dangan; Tipperary v Galway, 2pm, Tipperary; Blackrock v Clonmel, 12.30pm, Ursuline School