Pembroke’s title credentials put to the test by reigning champs Pegasus

Pembroke’s growing reputation as a side that can do big damage in the EY Hockey League face a big test on the road as they go to Queen’s on Saturday to face fellow leaders Pegasus.

The Dublin side travel with a slight advantage on goal difference after four wins from five outings to date and plenty of confidence. They welcomed Gillian Pinder back for the first time last weekend to link up with the likes of fellow internationals Leah McGuire, Aisling Naughton, Sinead Loughran and Emily Beatty making for a side packed with pace.

Leah McGuire has been a big addition at Pembroke. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Young goalkeeper Aoife Glennon has backed up a defence which has conceded the least in the league to date while there are plenty of 20-somethings in the panel – like Eanna Horan, Hayley O’Donnell, Orla Macken and Amy-Kate Trevor – who have bags of experience.

Pegasus, meanwhile, are a side managing their transition well with Kerri McDonald and Ruth Maguire stepping up as big leaders. They missed Michelle Harvey (ankle injury), Lucy McKee and Taite Doherty last weekend but, in Alex Speers, Shirley McCay and Pamela Glass, they have some perfect performers to inspire youngsters like Molly Dougan, Charlotte Beggs and Niamh McIvor.

It makes for a fascinating contest in this tightest of leagues where there still has been just one game separated by more than two goals.

Muckross host UCD with the former set to be without Anna O’Flanagan for the game against her former club along with Sophie Barnwell who is South Africa with the Irish indoor team. It takes a little bit of edge off their front line that has netted 11 times this term, equal best with the two leaders.

Miles Warren’s side, meanwhile, will be without Orla Patton due to the indoor. The students are one point ahead of Muckross after five rounds of matches.

Cork Harlequins welcome Old Alex to Farmers’ Cross with the hosts hoping to land their first win of the season after two draws from five games. Alex are in fourth place with three wins and looking to keep up the pressure on the leaders.

Catholic Institute’s tie with Loreto and Railway Union’s game against Belfast Harlequins are both off due to the Irish women’s indoor team’s tour in South Africa.

The side will play four times in Cape Town with potentially large crowds of up to 4,000 young fans at the Pro Series Indoor festival. The ties will be streamed on Digitv.co.za with commentary from Tyron Barnard.

Elsewhere, Ayeisha McFerran has been nominated for the FIH Goalkeeper of the Year for a second time running following another super set of performances for Ireland.

The Larne woman most recently made a string of shoot-out saves in the Green Army’s victory over Canada to qualify for the Olympic Games for the first time, garnering back-to-back clean sheets in normal time.

Click image to cast your votehttp://www.fih.ch/events/hockey-stars-awards/hockey-stars-2019/vote/

She also put in strong performances in June’s World Series event in Banbridge and August’s EuroHockey Championships in Antwerp, conceding on average just a goal a game.

It earned her a move to the professional ranks in the Netherlands with SV Kampong, competing in world hockey’s best women’s club national league.

She is included on the shortlist alongside Spain’s Maria Ruiz – named best goalkeeper at the Euros – France’s Mathilde Petriaux, Japan’s Megumi Kageyama and Australia’s Rachael Lynch. None of them have won the award before.

EYHL Division 2 has its last round of fixtures before the winter break with Pool A featuring two huge ties. Corinthian’s perfect record will be put to the test on the road at Lurgan where a win for the Ulster side would throw the group wide open.

Should the reds win, though, they will carry at least a four-point lead into the New Year and over six points to the sides outside of the playoff places. The other tie features second place Trinity up against Cork C of I at Santry Avenue.

In Pool B, one game is on the card as Monkstown go to UCC without the services of Chloe Watkins. Both sides are on eight points and so the winner will be second in the group over the Christmas break.

Queen’s against Greenfields is postponed until February 22 due to a trio of indoor internationals in the former’s camp.

Three Leinster Division One matches are on Saturday. In-form Naas have designs on fourth place if they can get the better of Glenanne at Caragh Road – it took the Kildare side five games to get their first win but they have since scored 12 goals in three victories.

UCD’s Niamh Carey and Pegasus’s Kerri McDonald. Pic: Adrian Boehm

The Glens, though, are also in decent form with seven points out of nine and sit one place above Naas, making this an interesting content.

Seventh meets sixth when Clontarf host Genesis while Rathgar come up against Avoca who are gunning for their first win since October. A number of their games have gone by the wayside for a variety of reasons.

Saturday 7th December 2019

Women

Indoor international test match: South Africa v Ireland, Cape Town Velodrome, 5pm (Irish time)

** All the matches in Cape Town are being streamed LIVE on the following website: https://digitv.co.za/#/

EYHL Division 1: Cork Harlequins v Old Alex, Farmers’ Cross, 1.05pm; Muckross v UCD, Muckross Park, 3.15pm; Pegasus v Pembroke Wanderers, Malone, 2.30pm

EYHL Division 2

Pool A: Lurgan v Corinthian, Lurgan JHS, 2.30pm; Trinity v Cork C of I, Santry Avenue, 2pm

Pool B: UCC v Monkstown, Mardyke, 2pm    

Leinster Division 1: Clontarf v Genesis, Mount Temple, 2.30pm; Naas v Glenanne, Caragh Road, 1pm; Rathgar v Avoca, The High School, 3.30pm

Examiner Cup – Round 3: Bandon v Belvedere, Bandon GS, 12.30pm

Sunday 8th December 2019

Women

Indoor international test match: South Africa v Ireland, Cape Town Velodrome, 5pm (Irish time)

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