The catch-up rounds of the EY Hockey League lost to the umpires’ impasse begin this weekend, making for a double-weekend for many clubs with Irish Senior Cup games on Sunday.
Indeed, it has been a busy period for the EY Working Group who, in the wake of the Irish women’s qualification for the World Cup, have confirmed a series of changes to the league schedule.
This is to “to ensure that national squad players are available to their clubs for the EY Hockey League and Irish Senior Cup” while also being available for international challenge matches which have been confirmed.
“We appreciate this is another set of changes, but once the line up for the World Cups emerged, all the Federations finalise their preparation programs with a lot of horse trading between them. It is great news that Ireland has been part of this process for both teams.”
The program will see a number of single nation match series against Scotland in October and both Scotland and Great Britain, the Olympic Gold medalists in March as well as a tri-nations tournament in January in Spain with Belgium, the recent European silver medalists also featuring.
The EYHL changes see Round 8, scheduled for December 2, moving to April 28; Round 12 on February 12 brought forward to January 27; Round 14 goes from March 4 to a day earlier on March 3. For the Irish Senior Cup, the quarter-finals will now be played on January 20.
As for this week, for UCD, it’s a varsity warm-up double as they play Trinity on Saturday before facing UCC on Sunday in the cup, giving each side plenty of ideas of what lies ahead of them later this month at Grange Road in the annual third level festival.
Cork Harlequins are in Ulster for the weekend, meeting Ards on Saturday before playing Dungannon in the cup on Sunday.
Quins impressed with their opening day win over UCD, one that caught the eye of many around the island, ending a 20-game unbeaten streak in the league.
Roisin Upton, though, says her side did not read that much into it: “I don’t think any of us thought about it that deeply. There hasn’t been a big gulf between the teams; it was always competitive last year.
“There wasn’t a sense of euphoria you get when you beat a side way better than you but it was a good win!
“Pegasus, we might have hoped for the three points but further down the road, we may see it as an important point. They are a good team as well. We are building each game and are happy with where we are at heading into the double-weekend.”
Hermes-Monkstown and Pembroke are the two sides looking to get off the mark in the EYHL, making their tussle at the Merrion Fleet Arena an important one at this early stage of the season.
Railway Union, meanwhile, travel north for the second weekend running – their third away date so far – to take on Pegasus, looking to add to their pair of draws so far.
On Sunday, there is a chance for a few of the provincial contenders to make an impact against higher tier opposition. In addition to UCC taking on UCD, Ulster challengers Lurgan host Trinity while Corinthian’s exciting side will look to put it up to Pegasus.
Old Alex, meanwhile, will aim to continue their excellent early season form when they go to Banbridge.
Women’s weekend fixtures
EY Hockey League
Saturday: Hermes-Monkstown v Pembroke, 12.30pm, Merrion Fleet Arena; Trinity v UCD, 1pm, Santry Avenue; Ards v Cork Harlequins, 2.30pm, Londonderry Park; Pegasus v Railway Union, 2.30pm, Queen’s
Irish Senior Cup, first round
Sunday: Banbridge v Old Alex, 1pm, Havelock Park; Dungannon v Cork Harlequins, 2.30pm, Steelweld Park; Lurgan v Trinity, 2.30pm, Lurgan JHS, Pegasus v Corinthian, 2.30pm, Queen’s; UCD v UCC, 3pm, Belfield
Irish Hockey Trophy, first round
Friday: Cookstown v Mossley, 8pm, Steelweld Park
Saturday: Ashton v Omagh, 1,30pm, Omagh; Galway v Clontarf, 1pm, Dangan; Raphoe v Catholic Institute, 1pm, Royal & Prior; Waterford v NUIG, 1pm, Newtown School; Rathgar v Belvedere, 2.15pm, High School; Armagh v Bandon, 2.30pm, Ardmore; Lisnagarvey v Cork C of I, 2.30pm, Comber Road; North Down v Avoca, 2.30pm, Comber Road