Loreto’s international returnees give extra freedom for front line for key Alex tie

It’s a top five against bottom five Saturday in women’s Leinster division one meaning any slip up from the leaders will be hugely costly in the battle for their respective ambitions.

Probably the closest matched fixture is Loreto’s trip to Old Alex. With Nicci Daly, Lizzie Colvin and Ali Meeke back available, they have one of the most impressive midfields around, freeing up Nikki McConnell and Niamh Small to push further on.

Nikki McConnell and Niamh Small have extra freedom for Loreto in attack Pic: Adrian Boehm

Nikki McConnell and Niamh Small have extra freedom for Loreto in attack Pic: Adrian Boehm

That extra potency was shown in their impressive 3-0 win over Hermes last Sunday in a hugely entertaining tie and has ensured that they did not lose too much ground in the IHL race after two 1-0 losses to start 2015.

For Alex, Lenthea Kamffer has returned to South Africa but Loreto will still need to break past Jo-nelke Swanepoel and Pam Smithwick. Sally Campbell has been a big miss in midfield in recent weeks amid a very busy school and club schedule as Alex have yet to score in three games since the turn of the year.

Pembroke, featuring a number of Trinity alumni, face the students at Serpentine Avenue in a tester that the former need to win to keep up their IHL push. Trinity have played well of late and finally got their reward against North Kildare last weekend and Pembroke will need to keep tabs on former member Avril Dooley-O’Carroll as well as Anna May Whelan.

Railway meet Glenanne for the second time in a week, hoping to repeat their 4-1 win from the Irish Senior Cup. The midfield interchanges of Kate Dillon, Kate McKenna and Emma Smyth were critical in unlocking the door and, with home advantage, a repeat performance is more than possible.

Hermes face North Kildare for the first of two ties in their run-in while UCD travel to Whitechurch Park, hoping to beat the snow to get their game in against Corinthian.

The Irish Junior Cup sees Muckross, Trinity, Old Alex and Pembroke battle for a quarter-final spot, something that Railway have already attained by virtue of a walkover received from Armagh.

It has been a busy week in women’s division two, meanwhile. On Monday, Loreto II fought back 2-0 down to beat Genesis 3-2. Well-worked corners from Laura Barrie and Aoife Henry had the Stillorgan side flying high but the Beaufort crew got their lifeline before the break when Aideen McGuinness swept home from Ciara Vincent’s good build-up play.

Vincent was again creator for McGuinness’s second goal to tie things up early in second half as the former made a run from the right and laid on a nice pass for the latter to score on her backhand.

Loreto survived a spell of corners with Mary Harkin making the saves before the winner came with nine minutes to go. Sarah Jane Kelly just about made it to the sideline to deliver a one-handed reverse stick pass down the line to McGuinness.

In turn, she picked out captain Phoeve Lyons unmarked at the penalty spot. Lyons deflected the ball through the keepers legs and into the goal.

Trinity's Avril Dooley-O'Carroll in action against her former club Pic: Adrian Boehm

Trinity’s Avril Dooley-O’Carroll in action against her former club Pic: Adrian Boehm

Two days later, Muckross bounced back from their penalties loss to Three Rock in the Trophy to beat Loreto II 6-3. Jane Gilsenan underpinned the success, starting the scoring and running up a hat trick.

Loreto scored their first through captain Lyons against the run of play before McGuinness made it 2-1 to the home team smashing the ball home. Sarah Mooney made it 3-1 before half time when a corner was put back to her on the post.

But the Donnybrook side produced an awesome second half performance to net five times without reply as Gilsenan completed her treble, Anna Scott fired home a corner while Sarah Cooney also was on the score sheet.

Railway Union II beat Old Alex II 2-0 to join Muckross on 28 points, six off leaders Pembroke II with five rounds of matches remaining.

Ladies Division One League (Saturday): Corinthian v UCD, 12.45pm, Whitechurck Park; Old Alex v Loreto, 1.30pm, Milltown; Railway Union v Glenanne, 2.45pm, Park Avenue; Hermes v North Kildare, 3.15pm, St Andrews; Pembroke v Trinity, 3.45pm, Serpentine Avenue

Ladies Division Two League
Loreto II 3 (A McGuinness 2, P Lyons) Genesis 2 (A Henry, L Barrie)
Wednesday: Old Alexandra II 0 Railway Union II 2 (N Telford, M Carey); Loreto II 3 (P Lyons, A McGuinness, S Mooney) Muckross 6 (J Gilsenan 3, R Dillon, A Scott, S Cooney)

Saturday: Genesis v Avoca, 1pm, St Raphaelas; Hermes II v UCD II, 1.15pm, St Andrew’s

Irish Junior Cup, second round
Portadown v Queen’s University, 7.30pm, Edenvilla
Saturday: Muckross v Pegasus, 1.30pm, Muckross Park; Trinity v Loreto, 1.30pm, Santry Avenue; Bandon v Old Alex, 2pm, Bandon GS; Cork Harlequins v Cork C of I, 2pm, Farmer’s Cross; Pembroke v Ashton, 2.15pm, Serpentine Avenue; Lisnagarvey v Randalstown, 4pm, Comber Road

Result: Armagh v Railway Union, conceded by Armagh

Women's Leinster Senior Div 1