With temperatures dropping, it has probably worked in the women’s EYHL’s favour that the national side is in Spain playing four test matches.
This weekend was initially due to be round nine of the competition but have to be refixed to dates before March 31 as a result of this trip.
It is among a number of changes to the schedule confirmed by Hockey Ireland. EYHL Round 10 goes from February 9 to Sunday, February 10 to facilitate an extra day’s recovery for the Irish players returning from Spain.
Round 12 has been moved from February 23 to Sunday, March 3. Round 16 moves from March 30 to Saturday, March 16 while the high-performance players will not be available for the Irish Senior Cup semi-finals on March 31 and May 11.
The moves are designed to give the Irish team the best possible chance of qualifying for Tokyo 2020 with optimum contact hours and recovery time while also allowing players to line out for their clubs.
Commenting on the calendar changes, high-performance director Adam Grainger said: “2019 is a huge year for Hockey Ireland as we seek to secure a place at the Olympics for each national team.
“The continued success over the last number of years and particularly 2018 has put the realisation of the Olympic dream within realistic sights.
“The HP team are hugely thankful for the support of the clubs, fellow athletes and all the supporters of Irish Hockey as we work together on the Road to Toyko journey through 2019. Here’s hoping the dream does come through and hockey is firmly established in the public eye following the wonderful year.”
As such, it leaves a much-reduced schedule, one that is likely to be trimmed further in due course. As of Friday evening, EYHL2 games in Galway and Dungannon have already been postponed and the likelihood is many more games across the provinces will also fall.
Currently left on the agenda for this weekend is the vital Pool A tie between Corinthian and Trinity at Whitechurch Park with both sides locked on 10 points at the halfway stage in the group, four behind Queen’s.
The reds won the previous meeting between the teams in this competition 2-1 while the students reversed that in the Leinster league 1-0, showing there is precious little between the sides.
In Pool B, Monkstown will look to strengthen their playoff chances when they host Lurgan whom they beat 1-0 away from home in September.
In Leinster Division One, Genesis face North Kildare and Our Lady’s take on Glenanne on Saturday. On Sunday, top three Corinthian, Monkstown and Trinity face Avoca, Rathgar and Naas, respectively, in fixtures more likely to be played.
Six Catholic Institute’s alumni are plotting a UCC ambush of the Limerick side on a defining weekend in Munster women’s Division One as the top two face-off at the Mardyke.
Insta won 5-1 on the opening day of the season as the students struggled initially to incorporate 10 new faces. But John McGrath’s side have since swept to seven successive wins in the league, conceding just four times along the way as their new line-up grows into the season.
Irish Under-21 stars Jenny Clein – one of those six former Insta players – and goalkeeper Hannah Humphreys have been to the fore while Munster’s leading goalscorer Aoife Collins and Christina Dring have been banging in the goals.
Aebhfhinn Bourke, Saoirse O’Leary, Judy Mills and Holly Lehane bring the experience and manager Colette Coomey says she anticipates a very different outcome to the last meeting.
“While Institute are league leaders and unbeaten this season, we are quietly confident of causing an upset to bolster our league chances.”
Indeed, Insta are far from full strength. Roisin Upton is with the Irish squad in Spain where they face two games against India over the weekend.
Roisin Begley is unavailable due to her involvement with the Clare camogie panel while Eimear Ryan and Marianna Birdthistle are unavailable, too. Kym Daly – so often a driving force – is also a doubt with coach Ger O’Carroll waiting until Saturday to see if she can be included.
Should they win, it would put Insta – who lead by three points with a game in hand – in prime position to retain the provincial title but a UCC victory blows the race wide open.
Women’s weekend fixtures
EYHL 2 Pool 1: Corinthian v Trinity, Whitechurch Park, 1.15pm
Postponed: Greenfields v Queens University
Pool 2: Monkstown v Lurgan, ALD Merrion Fleet Arena, Monkstown, 4pm
Postponed: Dungannon vs NUIG
Leinster Division 1: Genesis v North Kildare, St Raphaela’s, 2.15pm; Our Lady’s v Glenanne, Terenure, 12.30pm
Munster Division 1: Ashton v Bandon, Ashton School, 3.30pm; Limerick v Belvedere, Villiers, 12pm; UCC v Catholic Institute, Mardyke, 12pm; Waterford v Cork C of I, Newtown, 2.05pm
International test match: Ireland v India, Murcia, 10am
Leinster Division 1: Corinthian v Avoca, Whitechurch Park, 3pm; Trinity v Naas, Santry Avenue, 2pm; Monkstown v Rathgar, ALD Merrion Fleet Arena, 4pm