After a tumultuous 11-days, Pegasus have jumped from second place in the women’s EYHL to within touching distance of the title all of a sudden.
It started with their 3-2 win over the Beaufort side who have since drawn twice – most recently on Thursday evening against UCD – while the Ulster side won big on Wednesday against Belfast Harlequins.
Six points is now the gap with three games to go for the leading duo with Pegasus possibly able to win the league on Saturday should results align.
They were hugely impressive against their Belfast rivals with Shirley McCay getting them up and running in the first minute and they were 4-0 up after 26 minutes with Kate Gourley, Lucy McKee and Charlotte Hart making hay.
McCay added another for good measure in the second half. Loreto, meanwhile, endured a frustrating evening on Thursday when Hannah Matthews had a goal ruled out deep into the second half.
It could have been worse, though, but for Liz Murphy’s penalty stroke save from Hannah McLoughlin to keep the scoreboard blank in the closing minutes.
It means Loreto need to run up wins in their closing ties to have any chance of nicking the title, starting with a Saturday date against Old Alex and hope for Pegasus to miss out against in-form Cork Harlequins.
Cork, for their part, have fourth place in their sights but have a tough weekend on the cards as they follow up the Pegs’ date with a tie against Ards on Sunday.
Two Dublin derbies complete Saturday’s schedule with Pembroke needing to get something from their date with UCD to close the gap to fourth where Cork Quins have eked out a healthy gap.
Railway Union’s slim chances of a top four finish see them host Muckross who are now in all-or-nothing mode at the bottom. Railway will hope to welcome back some of Sarah Hawkshaw, Cecelia Joyce and Anna May Whelan who all missed the Jacqui Potter Cup final success.
EYHL Division 2 is something of a dead weekend. Queen’s can assure themselves of top spot if they win at Greenfields who are waiting for their first win of the competition. Corinthian play Greenfields on Sunday with both sides already eliminated.In Pool B, Monkstown can take the lead if they win over Lurgan with Catholic Institute focusing on the Munster Senior Cup final. Dungannon against NUIG is a battle to avoid bottom spot in the group.
As for that Munster final, UCC coach John McGrath says his side are going into the final as “very much underdogs” as they look to be the first side to beat Catholic Institute on Saturday evening (5pm, Garryduff).
Indeed, the Limerick side have won every single one of their Munster league and EYHL Division 2 ties this year including a 5-1 defeat of the student side back in September when many new faces in situ.
Since then, UCC have improved markedly and are right in the mix to win a spot in EYHL2 for next season despite being hampered by injuries in recent times.
“We are quietly confident of causing an upset with big game players such as Hannah Humphreys, Jenny Clein, Saoirse O’Leary, Emma Cripps and Christina Dring at our disposal,” he said ahead of the final.
“The squad has gelled well over a long season and the EYHL2 experience gained has been invaluable to our development. We have an important few weeks ahead and it starts on Saturday.”
For Insta, Geraldine O’Carroll is currently reporting a full bill of health but that could change over the course of the Kate Russell All-Ireland Schoolgirls Championships.
Anna Horan, Aoife Hickey – who sustained an ankle injury – Leah Clery and Sophie Clein have all been part of the Rosbrien club’s first team squad this season. But they were also involved in the Crescent schools team who play four games in two days in the Kate Russell.
O’Carroll says she will assess on an individual basis whether they will be physically able to add the Senior Cup final to their intense schedule.
In Leinster Division One, several sides complete their campaign on Saturday. Corinthian can move above Monkstown for the time being if they beat Genesis at Whitechurch Park.
Doing so could be important in terms of EYHL2 places, particularly if Muckross are relegated from the national division, leaving just two spots in next year’s second tier for Leinster sides.
First placed Trinity host bottom side Our Lady’s; Glenanne finish off at Naas while Rathgar face North Kildare.
Women’s weekend fixtures (Saturday unless stated)
EY Hockey League
Wednesday: Pegasus 5 (S McCay 2, K Gourley, L McKee, C Hart) Belfast Harlequins 0
Thursday: Loreto 0 UCD 0
Saturday: Ards v Belfast Harlequins, Londonderry Park, 2.30pm; Loreto v Old Alexandra, Three Rock Rovers HC, 1pm; Pegasus v Cork Harlequins, Malone Playing Fields, 1pm; Pembroke Wanderers v UCD, Serpentine Ave, 12pm; Railway Union v Muckross, Park Avenue, 2.30pm
Sunday: Ards v Cork Harlequins, Londonderry Park, 1pm
EYHL Division 2, Pool 1
Saturday: Greenfields v Queens University, Dangan Sports Ground, 2.20pm
Sunday: Corinthian v Greenfields, St. Columba’s College, 2pm
Pool 2: Dungannon v NUIG, Royal School, 1pm; Monkstown v Lurgan, ALD Merrion Fleet Arena, Monkstown, 1pm
Munster Division 1
Saturday: Limerick v Belvedere, Villiers, 2pm
Sunday: Ashton v Limerick, Ashton School, 2pm
Munster Senior Cup Final: Catholic Institute v UCC, Garryduff, 5pm
Munster Senior Plate Final: Cork C of I v Waterford, Midleton College, 2.30pm
Leinster Division 1: Corinthian v Genesis, Whitechurch Park, 2.15pm; Naas v Glenanne, Naas SC, 3pm; Rathgar v North Kildare, The High School, 12.30pm; Trinity v Our Lady’s, Trinity Sports Grounds, 3pm