Old Alex announced a massive double coup on Thursday evening with Irish internationals Nikki Evans and Deirdre Duke confirming they will play for the Milltown club.
The duo were part of the side that qualified for the Olympic Games two weeks ago and coach Niall Denham confirmed they will go straight into the squad for a big double weekend, facing Muckross on Saturday before hosting Railway Union a day later.
They both played in Germany last term, Evans at UHC Hamburg, Duke at Dusseldorfer HC, helping their respective clubs to the national playoffs but they held off on formally announcing their next move until their schedule for 2020 was clear.
With the ticket for Tokyo secure, the panel – bar Ayeisha McFerran at SV Kampong in the Netherlands – are back in Ireland, helping them to avail of Sean Dancer’s increasingly centralised training plan.
While neither Evans or Duke have played for Alex at the top-level before, their fit is a reasonably natural one. They played in the past with Hermes and then UCD; the former are now under the Monkstown banner and playing outside the EYHL while they have gone beyond the “year’s grace” limit at Belfield.
Both are alumni of Alexandra College with Evans’ sister Rebecca the current club captain while there are plenty of former UCD team mates in the line-up. It will add significant extra firepower to the frontline of a side who began their campaign with a 2-0 win over Belfast Harlequins.
Last weekend, four of the 18 Donnybrook heroes lined out locally but plenty more will be back in action having rested on day one of the league, taking in big games on Saturday and Sunday.
Nicci Daly will not be back for Loreto’s games against UCD on Saturday and Muckross on Sunday. Lizzie Colvin is on honeymoon and so is out of Belfast Quins’ ties with Catholic Institute and Cork Harlequins.
In the men’s EYHL, YMCA will be hoping to build on their win over Pembroke when they go north to Annadale; should they come back from the M1 with the points, the result will leave the Ulster side in plenty of discomfort at this early stage of the campaign.
A key battle will be between the big corner guns of Ryan Burgess and Grant Glutz while brothers Scott and Cameron Ruttle come up against each other.
It is one of five tie which look reasonably well matched on paper. At St Andrew’s, Joe Brennan’s Corinthian comes up against his former club, Glenanne.
— Elaine Buckley (@ElaineBucko) November 15, 2019
The Glens worked off a slimline panel last weekend with their second team away in the Irish Junior Cup – Gary Shaw will hope to have a couple more options to deploy from the bench this time out.
Lisnagarvey’s biggest test this term to date was in the Irish Senior Cup when they had to come back from 2-0 down to beat Banbridge. They go back to the same Havelock Park venue for an evening match-up that always draws the crowds.
UCD will look to bounce back after their first setback of the campaign when they face a Pembroke side looking to find some sort of form after three defeats out of four.
Monkstown host Three Rock Rovers in a battle to try and strengthen their respective places in the top four.
In addition to the full EYHL schedule, round two of the Irish Hockey Trophy takes place across the island
Saturday 16th November 2019
EYHL: Annadale v YMCA, Strathearn School, 4pm; Banbridge v Lisnagarvey, Havelock Park, 5pm; Glenanne v Corinthian, St Andrews, 2pm; Monkstown v Three Rock Rovers, ALD Merrion Fleet Arena, 2.15pm; UCD v Pembroke, Belfield, 2.50pm
Irish Hockey Trophy – Round 2: Bangor v Raphoe, Bangor Aurora, 2.30pm; Belfast Harlequins v Portadown, Deramore Park, 1pm; Kilkenny v South Antrim, Kilkenny College, 2pm; NICS v Weston, Maynard Sinclair Pavilion, 2.30pm; Rathgar v Catholic Institute, The High School, 2.15pm; UCC v Ashton, Mardyke, 2pm; Waterford v Newry, Newtown, 2.30pm
Irish Hockey Challenge – Pool A: Limerick v Galway, Villiers, 3.15pm
Leinster Division 1: Avoca v Bray, Newpark, 1pm; Dublin North v Clontarf, National Sports Campus, 12pm
Munster Division 1: Bandon v Cork C of I, Bandon GS, 2.30pm
EYHL: Belfast Harlequins v Cork Harlequins, Deramore Park, 2.30pm; Loreto v UCD, Beaufort, 2.45pm; Muckross v Old Alexandra, Muckross Park, 3.15pm; Pegasus v Catholic Institute, Belfast HS, 2.30pm; Railway Union v Pembroke, Park Avenue, 2.30pm
Irish Hockey Trophy – Round 2: Bandon v NUIG, Bandon Grammar, 12.30pm; Galway v Kilkenny, Dangan, 1pm; North Down v Raphoe, Comber LC, 1pm; Genesis v North Kildare, St Raphaelas, 1.45pm; Bray v Lisnagarvey, Loreto Bray, 2.15pm; Armaghv Rathgar, Ardmore, 2.30pm; Portadown v Mossley, Portadown, 2.30pm; Three Rock Rovers v Avoca, Grange Road, 3pm
Munster Division 1: Cork C of I v Belvedere, Garryduff, 12pm; UCC v Limerick, Mardyke, 12pm
Sunday 17th November 2019
Leinster Division 1: Clontarf v Portrane, Mount Temple, 3.45pm; Kilkenny v Avoca, Kilkenny College, 3pm
EYHL: Belfast Harlequins v Catholic Institute, Deramore Park, 1pm; Loreto v Muckross, Beaufort, 3pm; Old Alex v Railway Union, Alexandra College, 2.30pm; Pegasus v Cork Harlequins, Queens University, 1pm; UCD v Pembroke Wanderers, Belfield, 1.30pm