Thursday, May 15, 2008

All-Ireland Club Championships preview

A fascinating weekend lies in store this weekend at Lisnagarvey as Ireland's top eight contest the women's Club Championships. The three Leinster sides go into the competition in very different shape.

Loreto - who only got their chance thanks to a late goal from Hermes against Pembroke - are hopeful they can continue their impressive form from recent friendly matches. They spent a lot of the league season without Nikki Symmons, Cathy McKean and Louisa Healy but matches against UCD, Railway and Armagh, whom they beat 3-0, show they are coming into form at the right time.

The key for Guy Garrett's side will be the opening two games, especially their opener against Leinster rivals, Hermes. The Dun Laoghaire side, in the words of coach Colin Stewart, are currently in transition as they attempt to mesh their excellent youth prospects with the wealth of experience in the club. Having said that, they produced an amazing run of form conceding just two goals since November after a sticky start.

Railway Union go into the tournament having already "met and surpassed all expectations for this season" according to Mick McKinnon. They lose American Katie Evans, who was with the side in the second half of the season, and Sarah McDonald is unavailable due to exams. 14 year-old Lisa McCarthy comes into the squad as cover.

Pegasus look the obvious favourites in the group with Harlequins and McKinnon's former club, Armagh, probably in a straight race for the second semi-final berth. But the coach admits that this year, "anything we acheive here is a bonus".
Pool A: Pegasus; Cork Harlequins ; Railway Union ; Armagh
Pool B: Hermes; Ballymoney ; Loreto ; Cork C of I

Lisnagarvey Hockey Club
Friday 16th May
6.00pm A Pegasus -v- Armagh
6.20pm B Hermes -v- Loreto
8.00pm A Ballymoney -v- Cork C of I
8.20pm B Railway Union -v- Cork Harlequins

Saturday 17th May
12.30pm B Hermes -v- Cork C of I
1.30pm A Railway Union -v- Pegasus
3.00pm B Loreto -v- Ballymoney
4.00pm A Armagh -v- Cork Harlequins

Sunday 18th May
11.00am A Armagh -v- Railway Union
12.00pm B Cork C of I -v- Loreto
1.00pm A Pegasus -v- Cork Harlequins
2.00pm B Hermes -v- Ballymoney

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