Hermes drive for a perfect season may have came to an end last Sunday but coach Rudi Wortmann’s charges are still very much gunning for the two biggest pieces of silverware left on the agenda.
His side won the inaugural EY Hockey League last Saturday with four matches to go to land their first title and a European spot. A day later, they were knocked out of the Jacqui Potter Cup semi-final at the semi-final stage in a shoot-out by Railway Union to deny them the shot at a quadruple.Tomorrow, though, focus is on the Irish Senior Cup semi-finals and a home tie against Ards. They will welcome back most, if not all, of their international players Naomi Carroll, Anna O’Flanagan, Nikki Evans and Chloe Watkins while Sinead Loughran, Emma Gray and Christine Quinlan could also return to the panel who missed the Railway tie.
That they drew with one of the leading sides without seven front-line players shows the awesome strength in depth of Wortmann’s side.
Ards, meanwhile, will have to adjust quickly to the outdoor game having represented Ireland in European indoor competition last weekend in Dundee. And the coach says it will be a big test despite Hermes being clear favourites, not just for this tie but for winning the competition for the first time since 2006.
“You can see from the results that Ards have grown in the league and are serious contenders for a place in this final. They might be seen as underdogs but that is not the way we see them and we will treat them with utmost respect.”
The other semi-final is a repeat of last Saturday’s EY league tie which Ulster Elks won 3-1 against UCD. After a stick spell in the league, encompassing five successive defeats either side of Christmas, they are right back on form and in contention thanks to three league wins in a row.
Megan Frazer’s return from injury has been important as has the form of Shirley McCay, Gemma Frazer and Anna Kozniuk in rekindling their playoff hopes.
Rebecca Barry is a doubt still after a nasty neck injury ruled her out of the last few games.
UCD coach Miles Warren will hope he can learn much from his video analysis to pin-point holes in the Elks’ side that they missed last time around. It has been a busy week for Warren, coaching Alexandra College to the Leinster Schoolgirls Senior Cup title.
Women’s Irish Senior Cup, semi-final (Saturday): Hermes v Ards, 1.30pm, Booterstown; Ulster Elks v UCD, 2.30pm, Jordanstown