Derbies galore conclude the pre-Christmas schedule in the women’s EY Hockey League with six games on the agenda, all hoping to avoid any frost-related issues.
Both Ca big EY Hockey League showdown at Rosbrien on Saturday (12pm) as Munster experiences its first top tier showdown for three years.
For Quins coach Darren Collins says he is unlikely to risk World Cup silver medalist Yvonne O’Byrne for the tie due to an ongoing foot injury.
Rather than parachute her in for this tie, he is hopeful she will return along with Cliodhna Sargent – after her ACL recuperation – in February at full throttle when the league returns for its second phase.
Their hopes are further hampered by Under-21 international Michelle Barry being exam-tied, placing further responsibility on Rebecca Barry and Emma Barber to drive them on.
For Insta, meanwhile, a recent x-ray on Roisin Upton’s broken wrist showed it had not fully healed and as so Dave Passmore says she will add to the serious talent on the sidelines.
It means both clubs will rely heavily on youngsters. Collins deployed seven schoolgirls in the side that pushed Old Alex close last Saturday with transition year student Lauren Cripps outstanding in midfield with Leah O’Shea leading the forward line.
While he hails the kids for stepping up superbly this term, it has seen Quins miss that vital bit of experience in close ties against Muckross and Pegasus.
“They are very young, very talented but, at this level, any mistakes get punished,” Collins said, reflecting particularly on leaders Pegasus nicking a winner with four minutes to go.
The older girls have really tried to instill leadership within them. They have trained really well; we haven’t the win yet but are really close.
“Other than Pembroke, every other game we had chances; we are knocking on the door and need a little bit of luck to go our way. We hope that, with our full squad, in the second half of the season we will start climbing up the table
As for the threat Institute pose, he says it is imperative they limit the amount of ball that goes to Naomi Carroll whose close skills have been sharpened by six indoor international games in the past 10 days.
For the Limerick hosts, meanwhile, Passmore is reporting a clean bill of health other than Upton for a double weekend with Loreto also visiting on Sunday.
He is keen for his side not to get too caught up in the derby element of the contest.
“The key thing is we play it as another game, not as Munster rivals. We don’t really change the way we play – we are just trying to get better at what we are trying to do. We do play some great attacking stuff but have been a bit leaky at the back which we need to solve.”
Top plays bottom at Deramore Park where Pegasus are the visitors against Belfast Harlequins with the former looking to maintain control of the Christmas number one spot.
Chasers Loreto begin their double-weekend at home against Railway Union before hitting the road on Sunday to go to Limerick. Second place Pembroke come up against Muckross with Anna O’Flanagan back available after missing last weekend.
UCD’s game is switched to Sunday when they will be up against Old Alex; Orla Patton could return for the students after her spell in South Africa on indoor duty.
Leinster Division One has a full round of action to conclude the first half of the season. Monkstown continue to bubble along with a 4-0 midweek win over North Kildare their fifth in succession, scoring plenty of goals in the process.
They go to Glenanne who they drew with at home in game one, marking this out as a potentially well-matched battle. The Glens will need a result to close the gap on the top three.
Avoca will hope to get their game with Trinity played; their frustrating campaign saw a midweek catch-up date against Clontarf pulled for a second time, this time for frost.
Corinthian are looking to end the first half of the season with a 16th win from 17 games when they meet bottom side North Kildare at The Maws. Rathgar host Genesis and Clontarf play Naas.
On the men’s side, UCD face Annadale in a refix from a month ago, postponed due to a bout of the mumps on campus. The students welcome Ali Empey to their line-up, switching from Three Rock in midweek to join up with his older brother.
His last game for Rovers before the move was to help them beat Pembroke 4-2 in the Mills Cup quarter-final, Harry Lynch and Mark English both scoring twice.
In men’s Leinster Division One, it’s a huge day in the title chase as Clontarf’s perfect record meets Railway’s perfect record in Mount Temple. Third plays fourth at Newpark with Avoca meeting Portrane who sit a point above them.
Rathgar go to the national sports campus to take on in-form Dublin North while Dublin University host Bray and Weston take on Kilkenny.
Saturday 14th December 2019
EYHL: UCD v Annadale, Belfield, 3.30pm
Leinster Division 1: Avoca v Portrane, Newpark, 1pm; Clontarf v Railway Union, Mount Temple, 12.30pm; Dublin North v Rathgar, National Sports Campus, 12pm; Dublin University v Bray, Santry Avenue, 11am; Weston v Kilkenny, Griffeen Valley Park, 12.45pm
Munster Division 1: Cork C of I v Waterford, Garryduff, 2.30pm; Cork Harlequins v Ashton, Farmers’ Cross, 2.30pm; UCC v Bandon, Mardyke, 2pm
EYHL: Belfast Harlequins v Pegasus, Deramore Park, 2.30pm; Catholic Institute v Cork Harlequins, Rosbrien, 12pm; Loreto v Railway Union, Beaufort, 2.30pm; Pembroke Wanderers v Muckross, Serpentine Avenue, 2.30pm
Leinster Division 1
Wednesday: Monkstown 4 (C Byrne 2, A Barnwell, E Kealy)
Postponed: Clontarf v Avoca
Saturday: Avoca v Trinity, Sion Hill, 2.30pm; Clontarf v Naas, Mount Temple, 2pm; Glenanne v Monkstown, St. Andrews, 2pm; North Kildare v Corinthian, The Maws, 12pm; Rathgar v Genesis, The High School, 12.30pm
Sunday 15th December 2019
EYHL: Catholic Institute v Loreto, Rosbrien, 1.30pm; UCD v Old Alexandra, Belfield, 1.30pm
Leinster Indoor League (all at St Columba’s College): Railway Union B v Old Alexandra, 11.10am; Loreto v Mount Temple, 11.50am; Portrane v Glenanne, 12.30pm; Muckross v Railway Union B, 1.10pm; Glenanne v Railway Union, 1.50pm; Portrane v Avoca, 2.30pm; North Kildare v Bray, 3.10pm; Loreto v Avoca, 3.50pm; Portrane v Railway Union, 4.30pm