Loreto and Pegasus face a potentially season-defining battle at Grange Road as the women’s EY Hockey League’s top two face off.
The Ulster side cut the gap to just a single point in midweek when they saw off Ards 4-1, shaking off their Ulster rivals in the last 13 minutes. Alex Speers and Harriet Platt shared goals in the first half and it remained tight until Caitlyn Harvey got Pegs in front.
Late efforts from Kate Gourley and Taite Doherty extended out a 4-1 victory to keep the pressure on Loreto in the title chase.
The Dubliners won the return leg back in November and a repeat performance would hand Paul Fitzpatrick’s side a four-point lead with five rounds to go.
Elsewhere, the chase of the Champions Trophy places is as tight as ever. Railway Union were frustrated not to be able to finish their tie against Pembroke when leading 3-0 last Sunday, a result that would have moved them level of Saturday’s opponents Cork Harlequins.
Belfast Harlequins will be aiming to bounce back from their disappointing 4-2 loss to their Cork namesakes when they host UCD – who have been very impressive since Christmas – in the late slot at Deramore.
With Ireland World Cup star Zoe Wilson back after injury to play against her best friend Lena Tice and Jenna Watt in goal scoring form with three in the last two games, Davy Frazer’s side will be quietly confident of taking something from the game, however.
Pembroke will look to bolster their challenge for a top-four place when they make the short hop up Herbert Park Road to Muckross while Old Alex host Ards.
EYHL2 kicks back into gear with Pool 1 holding the intrigue. Trinity host Queen’s in the key tie between first and second while UCC – currently in fourth – can jump into the top two should they beat Greenfields and Trinity draw or lose.
Pool 2’s semi-finalists can be done and dusted if Monkstown win their home tie against Dungannon. Catholic Institute host NUIG hoping to continue their perfect record as they build on the Munster title won last weekend.
In Leinster, a number of issues are already resolved with the top three eligible for the EYHL2 confirmed as is Our Lady’s in 10th.
Corinthian, though, can add pressure on Monkstown and Trinity for first place if they land a win over the Terenure club to move within a point of top.
Women’s weekend fixtures (Saturday unless stated)
EY Hockey League
Wednesday: Pegasus 4 (A Speers, C Harvey, K Gourley, T Doherty) Ards 1 (H Platt)
Saturday: Belfast Harlequins v UCD, Deramore Park, 4pm; Cork Harlequins v Railway Union, Farmers’ Cross, 1.05pm; Loreto v Pegasus, Three Rock Rovers HC, 2.50pm; Muckross v Pembroke Wanderers, Muckross Park, 3.15pm; Old Alexandra v Ards, Alexandra College, 3.15pm
EYHL 2, Pool 1: Greenfields v UCC, Dangan Sports Ground, 2.20pm; Trinity v Queens University, Trinity Sports Grounds, 12.30pm
Pool 2: Catholic Institute v NUIG, Rosbrien, 1pm; Monkstown v Dungannon, ALD Merrion Fleet Arena, 4pm
Irish Junior Cup – Semi-Finals
Saturday: Loreto II v Railway Union II, Beaufort, 4.15pm
Sunday: Pegasus v UCD II, Queen’s, 1pm
Leinster Division 1: Genesis v Naas, St Raphaela’s, 1pm; Glenanne v North Kildare, St. Andrews, 3pm; Our Lady’s v Corinthian, Terenure, 2pm; Rathgar v Avoca, The High School, 12.30pm
Munster Division 1: Bandon v Belvedere, Bandon GS, 1pm