With last season’s top two both losing on opening day, the second day of the women’s EY Hockey League will help give a good idea of whether a new order is developing and who can emerge from the pack.
Cork Harlequins will look to back up their brilliant 2-1 win over the all-conquering UCD when they host Ulster’s finest Pegasus on Saturday at Farmer’s Cross.
The Cork side are still waiting on Rebecca Barry to return from injury having missed out on the summer but she appears to be closing in on a comeback having been named in the Irish squad for the Scotland series later this month.
Roisin Upton and Naomi Carroll’s interchanges in the front line were top drawer at times in that UCD success while the corner defence played a blinder in repelling a usually fearsome front line.
Pegs look to be a much stronger prospect than last season, too, with Shirley McCay a huge addition while Katie McKee had an excellent debut following her move from Ards.
Ards, for their part, had an upbeat start to the campaign with Chloe Brown showing why she is so important to their success, making one and scoring the other in their 2-1 win over Pembroke. Railway Union are the visitors to Londonderry Park, looking to build on their opening 1-1 draw with Loreto.
Belfast Harlequins’ Zoe Wilson is in upbeat mood, meanwhile, ahead of a trip to Dublin to face UCD having played a key role in their 3-2 win over Hermes-Monkstown.
“After our gutsy performance on Saturday, I know we will take confidence going into this weekend,” said Wilson.
Miles Warren’s students, however, know that they were not far off a positive result last week with a glut of penalty corner chances, saying afterwards he would be far more concerned if the chances were not arriving.
Trinity host their first ever EY Hockey League match on Sunday against Pembroke with plenty of alumni set to face each other. Indeed, former Pembroke woman Rachel O’Brien scored her side’s first goal at this level before four second quarter goals saw their lead comprehsively over-turned.
Finding the defensive solidity that marked their last campaign will be crucial against a side likely to improve as the likes of Aisling Naughton, Gillian Pinder and Emily Beatty get integrated.
On Sunday, it’s derby date with Hermes-Monkstown and Loreto both looking to get their first win of the season.
In Leinster, Our Lady’s credentials will be put to a big test when they host Old Alex. Mark Lambe’s side have run up back to back 2-0 wins to start their campaign, sitting on six points with Alex and Muckross.
The visitors from Milltown will be a different prospect to their previous encounters and will give them a massive test of their mettle.
In Munster Division One, the leading pair – UCC and Catholic Institute – both come into their battle at the Mardyke with a 100% record and a clean sheet for the season to date. Something has to give.
Promoted Belvedere host Bandon –another unbeaten side with a clean sheet to their name – as the Ballincollig side look to build on an encouraging start to the campaign while Limerick host Cork C of I and Ashton face Waterford.
Women’s EY Hockey League
Saturday: Ards v Railway Union, 2.30pm, Londonderry Park; Cork Harlequins v Pegasus, 1.05pm, Farmers’ Cross; Trinity v Pembroke Wanderers, 2pm, Santry Avenue; University College Dublin v Belfast Harlequins, 2.50pm Belfield
Sunday: Hermes-Monkstown v Loreto, 4.15pm, Merrion Fleet Arena
Leinster Division One
Saturday: Corinthian v North Kildare, 12.45pm, Whitechurch Park; Our Ladys v Old Alex, 1pm, Terenure; Clontarf v Muckross, 2pm, Mount Temple; Avoca v Glenanne, 2.30pm, Newpark; Genesis v Rathgar, 2.45pm, St Raphaela’s
Munster Division One
Saturday: UCC v Catholic Institute, 12pm, The Mardyke; Ashton v Waterford, 12.30pm, Blackrock Road; Belvedere v Bandon, 12.45pm, Ballincollig Community School; Limerick v Cork C of I, 2pm, Villiers