Ards, Pegasus and Ballymoney carry Ulster hopes in tomorrow’s Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals and the local trio have stiff assignments.
The only surviving Ulster Premier League team in the competition, Ballymoney, won’t be fooled into underestimating Pembroke Wanders, despite the fact the Dublin side languish joint bottom of the EYHL table on four points.
Pegasus also face a stern test against Loreto in Dublin, having managed only a draw against the Leinster side in the league at Upper Malone.
“We are really looking forward to the game, especially as Pegasus have a long tradition in the cup and it’s a trophy we targetted at the start of the season,” said team captain Alex Speers.
“But we are under no illusions that, down in Dublin, Loreto will be a huge challenge with quality and experience all over the pitch.
“The league game was tough and we equalised in the last few seconds but we believe that, if we are clinical enough in the circle, we can get the win.”
Ards also have a tough encounter against a Cork Harelquins side that beat them 3-1 in the corresponding EYHL game at Londonderry Park.
Harlequins are expected to welcome back at least some of their international quintet of Naomi Carroll, Rebecca Barry, Cliodhna Sargent, Roisin Upton and Yvonne O’Byrne after they helped Ireland win World League 2 in Malaysia at the weekend.
“That will obviously strengthen them, you would think, and the girls concerned have obviously played a lot of hockey but maybe they’ll be a bit tired as well,” Ards captain Caroline Adams suggested.
“We have been training hard during the break from the EYHL but playing indoors at the weekend will have helped our sharpness.”
In the Ulster Premier League, Lurgan face Lisnagarvey who beat them 1-0 last week while challengers Queen’s and Randalstown face off at the Dub.
On Sunday, Ards continue their defence of the all-Ireland title with a semi-final against Glenanne and should they win, will meet either Queen’s or Railway Union in the final.
with a place in Europe next year the reward for the victors.