Friday, May 1, 2009

Nothing to choose between women's semi-finalists

When it came to employing the new rules, no women’s club adapted quite so spectacularly to the IHL as Loreto, emerging top of what looked the tougher of the two pools ahead of Leinster and Ulster champions, Railway Union and Pegasus, respectively.

They did so with three bonus point victories along the way, beginning the tournament with a bang thanks to Zara Delany’s eight-minute hat-trick.

Her absence, though – due to a nasty cruciate ligament injury, sustained in last Saturday’s league match with Railway which looks set to keep her on the sidelines for over six months – will be a huge loss for the Beaufort club and means there will be little to choose between the four sides this weekend.

They face Cork Harlequins in the semi-final for the first time since their cracking 4-3 result back in January 2007. Eimear Cregan got the golden goal in that ISC third round tie after Quins had earlier led 3-0 and she is back in the thick of the action since returning from long-term injury.

Her bonus point goal against Armagh was the pivotal factor in her club’s qualification and the Cork side are bang in form after claiming the Munster league title ahead of UCC.

They will continue to Rachel Kohler while Jane Chapple, Cliodhna O’Connor and Joanna Hyland are all unavailable this weekend. Jan Dillon does return while 24-goal Karen Bateman has been in superb shooting form.

Those sides will be hoping to break another of hockey’s enduring duopolies in the final as the other semi pits Pegasus and Hermes together. Between they have shared the competition’s forerunner, the club championships, for the past 11 years.

Hermes will hope Niamh Atcheler will recover where Dubs footballer Conal Keaney and Leinster rugby star Rob Kearney failed to play after a dose of the mumps but are otherwise at full strength.

Pegs, meanwhile, bounced back from their ISC defeat to UCD with a 6-1 win over Lurgan to complete their Ulster league campaign unbeaten and can never be discounted.

The wildcard playoff sees two places up for grabs from four teams with Old Alex duking it out with Connacht’s Greenfields, Munster’s Cork C of I and Ulster’s Belfast Harlequins.

To read more about the players thoughts about this weekend, click here

IHL schedule
10.30am Cork Harlequins vs Loreto; 12.30pm Hermes vs Pegasus (12.30pm)
Sunday: 1.30pm Women’s final

Wildcard schedule
2pm Belfast Harlequins vs Old Alex; 4pm Greenfields vs Cork C of I
Sunday: 11.30am Cork C of I vs Old Alex; 3.30pm Greenfields vs Belfast Harlequins
Monday: 12pm Cork C of I vs Belfast Harlequins; 2pm Old Alex vs Greenfields

IHL Squads
Loreto: Louisa Healy (GK); Alison Meeke; Clodagh Grealy; Niamh Smith; Nikki Symmons; Nikki Keegan (VC); Cathy McKean; Sarah O'Meara; Rachel Keegan; Lizzie Colvin; Niamh Small; Zara Delany; Mary Harkin (GK); Hannah Mathews; Aisling Campion; Caitriona Tipping; Sinead McGirr; Eilis smith.

Cork Harlequins: Amy O'Neill (GK); Yvonne OByrne; Claire Bergin; Hilary Chapple; Karen Bateman; Rachel McSharry; Fran Doonan; Dale Burkley; Eimear Cregan; Fiona Higgins; Emily O'Leary; Nan Kearney; Jennifer Murphy; Erica Breen; Cliodhna Sargent; Jan Dillon

Pegasus: Sharon Moffett (GK); Jessica Perry (GK); Nadine Brown; Jenny Kyle; Fiona McILwaine; Jill Orbinson; Claire McCmahon; Suzanne Beaney; Arlene Boyles; Lyn Brown; Alex Speers; Julie McKnight; Grace Irwin; Lynsey Mallon; Michele Harvey; Pamela Magill; Hannah Clarke

Hermes: Yvonne Kenny (GK); Sarah Greene; Gillian Pinder; Jilly Hodgins; Jenny Kinch; Niamh Atcheler; Jenny Burke; Linda Caulfield; Aoife Harte; Christine Quinlan; Deirdre Duke; Aoife McCarthy (co-capt); Shelly Sloan; Nicola Evans; Sinead McDonnell (co-capt); Anna O'Flanagan; Chloe Watkins; Emma Gray (GK)


Anonymous said...

Loreto- Hermes final. Loreto to win.
Alex and Belfast Harlequins to take the wild cards.

Anonymous said...

good luck to all the teams taking part at the weekend - may the best team win!

Anonymous said...

Loreto won 2-0 this morning...