Cork C of I v Loreto (Saturday), 2pm, Garryduff)
Loreto travel to Garryduff as the only Group A side with two wins and victory over fifth place CI would give them an excellent chance of advancing, though the final group stage against Railway could still prove key in April.
Their Irish quintet jets off the day after for Alicante for warm-weather training but Zara Delany has a slight leg injury to contend with. For the hosts, skipper Sandra Hackett is definitely out while former international Deirdre Casey takes on the captaincy duties.
Railway Union v Belfast Harlequins (Saturday) 6pm, Park Avenue
After an emphatic 6-2 win over Randalstown, Railway find themselves right back in the mix in Group A and the lack of a bonus point for Pegasus on Friday night was a slight boost.
Using their favoured 6pm start-time, they will hope to complete their series of three Ulster games well against a Jenny McDonough inspired Belfast Harlequins while Kelli Thornton has been among the goals.
The hosts, though, have strikers like Cecelia Joyce and Kate McKenna who have shown a relish for this competition while Jean McDonnell and Emma Smyth's pace is perfectly suited to the auto-pass ruling. Indeed, their side's usage of the new rules served up the most spectacular goals of round two.
Ballymoney v Armagh (Saturday) 3pm, Joey Dunlop Centre
Pure and simple, the loser of this fifth versus sixth clash will be out should they fail to win. Neither side has a win thus far though Ballymoney have shown the better league form thus far, picking up double the points of their opponents.
Armagh seem desperately short on fire-power with only nine goals in league outings and one in this competition though they do have the defensive strength of Emma Stewart as well as the talents of younger sister Amy and Rachel Mulligan.
'Money have an international trio of their own in Lauren Barr, Megan Frazer and Bridget McKeever while Lynsey McVicker remains a class act.
Cork Harlequins v UCD (Saturday) 3pm, Harlequin Park
The form side in 2009, UCD may not have scored many in recent weeks but, then again, they rarely concede and have by a distance the lowest aggregate goals per game in domestic competition.
Strong defence, marshaled by Holly Jenkinson, has been key to their progress under Mary Logue and wins over Hermes and Pembroke have them in top form. They will hope Roisin Flinn does not feel too much pain from the nasty jaw injury sustained last weekend and Liz McInerney and Rosie Carrigan continue to assert themselves in midfield.
Harlequins are a point better off in the table but do without Cliona O'Connor.
Hermes v Pembroke Wanderers (Sunday), 2pm, Belfield
The Sunday game sees a local derby with first playing third though the scarcity of bonus points in the group means its all incredibly tight. Club champions Hermes need to find a more clinical edge after a decent first half performance against UCD yielded just the one goal in the ISC.
They have gamebreakers in their side, though, with Chloe Watkins, Aoife Harte and Jenny Burke able to turn it on while Colin Stewart's side have saved more consistent form for the IHL.
Aoife McCarthy and Sinead McDonnell's marshaling of Louisa Moore, though, could be a key factor. The South-African born striker's power and quick-wittedness in front of goal means the Wanderers always have a chance.
Their set of youngsters - Alice Ward, Orla Fox and Noelle Farrell - are all progressing well, the latter in centre-midfield, making for an intriguing battle.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Posted by Stephen Findlater at 10:46 PM