"We will be hard to play against, difficult to beat and will surprise a few teams with our attacking play," said Catholic Institute coach David Passmore before the EY Hockey League season got under way. So far, at least, he has been as good as his word, his side sitting on top of the table after winning two and drawing two of their opening four fixtures.
Saturday, though, presents them with their biggest challenge yet, a trip to Belfast to take on reigning champions Pegasus who are level on points with the Limerick side, only trailing them on goal difference.
It will be an interesting test of Institute’s credentials, the club only making it to the top flight of the league for the first time when they beat Queens in a shoot-out in their April 2019 division two promotion play-off.
Draws with UCD and Old Alexandra, followed by victories over Muckross and Cork Harlequins, have, though, given them a promising start to this campaign, only UCD finding a way through their defence thus far. Pegasus, meanwhile, were held to a scoreless draw by Loreto last weekend, so Institute will hope to prove equally impenetrable.
UCD, Railway Union, Pembroke Wanderers and Alexandra are tied on seven points, one adrift of the top two, Railway and Pembroke meeting on Saturday at Park Avenue. UCD, top scorers in the division with 12 goals in their four games, are away to bottom club Cork Harlequins, who have conceded the same number of scores in their four fixtures, managing just the one goal so far.
Loreto have picked up just one win to date but will fancy their chances of making it two when they host third-from-bottom Belfast Harlequins at Beaufort.
Hockey League – Saturday: Pegasus v Catholic Institute, Queens, 2.30; Cork Harlequins v UCD, Farmers Cross, 12.45; Muckross v Old Alexandra, Grange Road, 1.0; Railway Union v Pembroke Wanderers, Park Avenue, 1.30; Loreto v Belfast Harlequins, Beaufort, 2.45.