Speers and Pegasus look to knock rising Railway off track

Alex Speers reckons Railway Union will pose a stiff test on Saturday at Malone as Pegasus aim to close the gap at the top of the EY Hockey League table, writes John Flack.

And the former Ireland captain is well qualified to give a considered opinion, having spent four years with the Dublin club before returning home to join Pegasus.

Speers has been in terrific form this season and has scored 15 goals in all competitions, including nine in ten matches in the all Ireland league.

Pegasus trail leaders Loreto by four points but have the benefit of a game in hand over the Leinster side, who beat Railway 3-2 last week.

However, the previous week, Railway produced a master class in crushing Belfast Harlequins 5-1 at Deramore and then went on to beat Loreto in the Jacqui Potter Cup.

Pegasus recovered from a 3-2 loss to UCD to beat Pembroke 2-0 in their last outing but Speers knows they will have to be in top form if they are to make it two home wins in a row.

She said: “Railway have been in great form over the last few weeks with some impressive victories and our matches are always close. We went behind in our league match with them before Christmas before grinding out a win so we know it won’t be easy on Saturday.

“They have talented players all over the pitch which I know from playing with the club can hurt us if we aren’t at our best.

“But we bounced back well in that win over Pembroke after losing to UCD and hope to keep that momentum going against Railway.”

Belfast Harlequins have slumped to third from bottom, after picking up just one point from a possible six in their last two outings.

However, it’s well within their grasp to still make the top four and a place in the end-of-season play-offs as just two points separate them from fourth-placed Cork Harlequins.

Davy Frazer’s side face a double header this weekend with a trip to Dublin to face Muckross followed by an away clash with their Cork namesakes.

After several weeks without Zoe Wilson, the Ireland World Cup silver medallist is set to return at the weekend, having been given the all-clear by her physio after an ankle injury.

“Zoe trained with us last week so fingers crossed she’ll be able to play in both matches which are vital for us,” said Frazer.

“It’s a massive weekend for us and it will either keep us in or around fourth place or we could be out of it depending on how the games go.”

For Cork Harlequins, they have a doubt over Julia O’Halloran who sustained an injury on Irish Junior Cup duty last weekend against UCD II.

Pegasus’ Alex Speers faces her old club Railway Union. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Darren Collins’ side is looking to replicate their fine away form on home turf; they start their weekend on the road to Pembroke before returning to Farmers’ Cross on Sunday for the Belfast game.

UCD are playing twice at home over the weekend before they vacate Belfield on Monday as work gets going on the National Hockey Stadium.

It would have been three home ties ticked off this week had their game against Muckross on Wednesday night was completed but the fog came down and it was abandoned in the second quarter at 3-1. They face Old Alex on Saturday and then Ards on Sunday.

For Ards, it is a testing weekend with Loreto visiting on Saturday. The weekend finishes out on Sunday evening with Railway coming up against Pembroke in a potentially spicy Dublin 4 derby with both sides in the playoff chase.

In EYHL2, the midweek tie between Corinthian and Trinity was called off after eight minutes due to fog.

Both are on the road in Leinster Division One on Saturday with the reds going to Glenanne and Trinity facing another tester when they go up against North Kildare.

Monkstown will look to continue their chase when they play away at Our Lady’s; Naas will hope to get something from their game against Avoca which may see them safe if other results go their way. Genesis play Rathgar.

Glenanne won 4-0 in midweek against Our Lady’s with Sarah-Jane Kelly, Paula Fitzpatrick, Kate O’Connor and Aisling Boyle all on the mark.

Women’s fixtures (Saturday unless stated)
EY Hockey League
Saturday: Ards v Loreto, Londonderry Park, 2.30pm; Muckross v Belfast Harlequins, Muckross Park, 3.15pm; Pegasus v Railway Union, Malone Playing Fields, 4pm; Pembroke Wanderers v Cork Harlequins, Serpentine Avenue, 2.30pm; UCD v Old Alexandra, Belfield, 2.50pm
Sunday: Cork Harlequins v Belfast Harlequins, Farmers’ Cross, 12pm; Railway Union v Pembroke Wanderers, Park Avenue, 4.15pm; UCD v Ards, Belfield, 1.30pm

Leinster Division 1: Genesis v Rathgar, St Raphaela’s, 3pm; Glenanne v Corinthians, St. Andrews College, 1pm; Naas v Avoca, Naas SC, 2pm; North Kildare v Trinity, The Maws, 2.30pm; Our Lady’s v Monkstown, Terenure, 12.30pm

Munster Division 1
Saturday: Ashton v Limerick, Ashton School, 12.30pm; Belvedere v Catholic Institute, Ballincollig Comm. Sch, 12.30pm; UCC v Waterford, Mardyke, 2.15pm
Sunday: Catholic Institute v Cork C of I, Rosbrien, 12.30pm

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