The women’s Irish Senior Cup second round is the highlight of the weekend action back home while Ireland’s men reflect on their battling display in going down 2-1 to tournament favourites Australia at the World Cup in India.
Pegasus, who are among the fancied to lift the famous trophy, are among the seven Ulster sides in Cup action. They will be expected to beat Trinity while one local side is guaranteed a quarter final place with Ards hosting Belfast Harlequins.
Ballymoney have a tough home tie against Loreto while the other Premier League sides are also up against top-flight opposition with Lurgan and Ulster Elks away to UCD and Railway Union respectively and Banbridge travelling to Cork Harlequins.
During the week, Shirley McCay, who is taking a break from international hockey, hit a rare hat-trick as Pegasus opened their Denman Ulster Shield account with a 6-0 win over Queen’s. Ards got their first victory of the season as Brenna McEwan scored the winner in a 3-2 victory at Dungannon while last season’s runners up, Lurgan were comfortable 5-2 winners over Lisnagarvey.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s women had mixed fortunes in Valencia in their first games since the World Cup, losing 3-2 in their opening game and 1-0 in the third after drawing the second 2-2 against their Spanish hosts. Gillian Pinder and Nikki Evans were on target in the first game while Pegasus midfielder Ruth Maguire scored her first senior international goal in the drawn game with Lena Tice also on the mark.
Meanwhile Ulster talent coach McCay insists the women’s World Cup has produced a positive legacy but the Pegasus defender says it’s important to continue to build on the momentum. Coinciding with the national team’s magnificent silver medal achievement in London back in August, women from a wide variety of sports have got together to launch a new campaign entitled 20×20.
It is designed to fulfil a three-pronged aim, namely to increase media coverage, spectator. numbers and participation levels by 20% by 2020, hence the scheme’s title. McCay, capped 273 times by Ireland, represented hockey at the launch held at Windsor Park, hosted by the NI Female Sports’ Forum.
She said: “There has been fantastic support since we came home from London, just to see clubs having waiting lists at youth level and even adults getting back into the game is fantastic and we have been able to go out to schools and clubs and let them be part of it as well.”
“It’s probably early days to tell at the minute about the precise numbers but I think from my original club in Omagh, we have more juniors signed up than ever before so I think now it is all just about building on that for the future.”
McCay has however been disappointed that the new generation of hockey players and fans won’t have the opportunity to see the World Cup heroines in action in Ireland before Christmas after a proposed ‘homecoming’ match fell through. The 30-year-old added: “We obviously want to build on the legacy as much as we can and we will probably have to wait until next year for our next home internationals.”
“But I think as long as we keep highlighting the success of the summer and making sure girls and boys are coming on board and want to support us, that will be great and hopefully next year we’ll get the support and the crowds we want.”
McCay says that while the momentum which followed the World Cup success has filtered down to clubs, it’s important that they do more to promote themselves and the sport in general.
She said: “More so than ever before we have given them a success story in the summer but we’re just not representing one or two clubs, we are representing the whole of Ulster and it’s really important that those clubs take advantage of this and really grow from there.”
“I think at club level we are still falling a wee bit behind in promoting hockey and I don’t know if we get as many people coming to watch the matches as we could. Whether that’s because of the time of day when everyone else has their own hockey or their own sports to be involved in I’m not sure but stories like the summer can only help and we have a long way to go but we are making strides. We played a Sunday game three weeks ago against Loreto and the sideline was lined with kids and adults. I think that is maybe something to look towards so we don’t always play games on a Saturday at 3 o’clock when the football and other sports are on and everyone is busy doing other things.”
On the men’s front on Saturday, Annadale face a long trip to Cork for a rescheduled EYHL game bidding to pull further clear of the drop zone. In EYHL 2, there’s a local derby between Kilkeel and Instonians with both teams anxious to get the win to keep on the coat tails of group leaders Corinthian. Kilkeel warmed up by making it six wins from six in the defence of the Ulster Premier title by beating Belfast Harlequins 3-1 at Deramore midweek. Mark Stevenson scored two and Luke Russell was also on target after Michael Patterson gave the Quins the lead
In the other section in EYHL 2, Bangor, who were 9-1 Ulster Premier winners over Antrim midweek helped by a Harry Dow hat-trick, will be going out to get something from their game at UCD. In the Ulster Premier, leaders Mossley will be aiming to consolidate when they travel to Newry on Friday night.
Men – Ulster Premier League
20:00 Newry v Mossley @ Newry H.C.
EYHL – Round 4
14:00 Cork Church of Ireland v Annadale @ Garryduff
EYHL 2 – Round 3 – Pool 1
15:00 Railway Union v Bandon @ Railway Union HC
14:50 University College Dublin v Bangor @ Belfield
EYHL 2 – Round 3 – Pool 2
14:30 Kilkeel v Instonians @ Kilkeel High School
15:00 University College Cork v Corinthians @ Mardyke
Ulster Premier League
14:30 N.I. Civil Service v Portadown @ NICS, Stormont
14:45 South Antrim v Queens University @ Friends Sch.
13:00 Armagh v Parkview @ Ardmore Recreation Centre
Irish Senior Cup – Round 2
14:30 Ards v Belfast Harlequins @ Londonderry Park
14:30 Ballymoney v Loreto
13:05 Cork Harlequins v Banbridge @ Farmers’ Cross
14:00 Old Alexandra v Muckross @ Alexandra College
14:30 Pegasus v Trinity @ Malone Playing Fields
14:30 Pembroke Wanderers v Monkstown @ Pembroke Wanderers HC
13:00 Railway Union v Ulster Elks @ Railway Union HC
16:20 University College Dublin v Lurgan @ Belfield
Irish Hockey Trophy – Round 2
14:30 Bandon v Three Rock Ladies @ Bandon Grammar Sch.
12:30 Bray v Greenfields
12:00 Cork Church of Ireland v Mossley @ Garryduff
14:00 Lisnagarvey v NUIG
13:00 Omagh v Rathgar
12:30 Our Lady’s v Clontarf @ Our Ladys School, Terenure
14:30 Portadown v North Kildare
13:00 Raphoe v Weston
13:00 Castle v Armagh @ Carrickfergus Ampthitheatre
14:30 North Down v CI @ Comber LC
14:30 Priorians v Club KV @ Foyle College
Denman Ulster Shield (Pool B)
14:30 Randalstown v Rainey @ Antrim Forum LC
Linden Cup – Semi-Finals
13:30 Antrim v CI @ Deramore Park
15:30 Ballymena v Ballynahinch @ Deramore Park