The race for the women’s EY Champions Trophy tickets cranks up a notch this weekend with nine matches in the league that will go a long way to defining who will take the guaranteed second and third spots behind Hermes.
Five points covers second to sixth place with plenty of swings in fortune likely to come. Indeed, for Railway Union, this is a defining weekend for their hopes with a pair of away battles with Ulster opposition.
Railway’s squad has slimmed a little in recent times with Cecelia Joyce and Kate McKenna jetting out to India with the Irish women’s cricket team for their T20 World Cup.First up for Colm Blennerhassett’s side is a tie at Pegasus on Saturday. Pegs are unbeaten in six games, dating back to Railway’s narrow 1-0 success in December at Park Avenue.
Ulster Elks will anticipate that they pick up three points on Saturday against already relegated Greenfields before facing a big tie against Railway on Sunday at Jordanstown. The Elks have been rocking in recent times, running up three wins in succession in the league and reaching the Irish Senior Cup final.
Rebecca Barry is back in action after a month out with a neck injury while Megan Frazer’s return has been a key part of their revival.
UCD will hope to get back on the horse after a pair of defeats to Ulster Elks in the past two weeks. Gillian Pinder missed out on playing last week due to concussion while Deirdre Duke departed early in the Senior Cup semi-final, leaving the students shy two of their top performers.
Nonetheless, they will be confident of getting something of their Saturday tie against UCC at Belfield before facing a huge task on Sunday against Pegasus.
Cork Harlequins have back-to-back home games at Farmer’s Cross, playing Ards on Saturday before hosting Hermes.
Chloe Brown was immense for Ards last week and so keeping tabs on her progress will be a key taske for Cliodhna Sargent and her team mates.
For Hermes, since winning the league they have bowed out of two cup competitions in shoot-outs and so will be looking to get back on the winning train against Pembroke on Saturday.
Keith Crawford’s side look to be out of reach of the playoff places while they have a seven-point buffer to the relegation playoff place.
Looking at the tie, Crawford said: “There is not much you can say about this Hermes team that hasn’t already been said. They became the EYHL Champions before February was over.
“They are unbeaten in the league and have been unlucky in the cups. We’ve played them twice this year so far and they are a handful to say the least with the number of top class players in the team, but we embrace the challenge and are staying focused on ourselves first and foremost.”
Women’s EY Hockey League
Saturday: Greenfields v Ulster Elks, , Dangan; Pembroke v Hermes, 2pm, Serpentine Avenue; Cork Harlequins v Ards, 2.30pm, Farmer’s Cross; Pegasus v Railway Union, 2.30pm, Queen’s; UCD v UCC, 2.45pm, Belfield
Sunday: UCC v Ards, 1pm, The Mardyke; UCD v Pegasus, 2.10pm, Belfield; Cork Harlequins v Hermes, 2.30pm, Farmer’s Cross; Ulster Elks v Railway Union, 2.30pm, Jordanstown