The unavailability of senior internationals for Sunday’s Irish Senior Cup semi-finals, members of the Irish squad also unable to appear for their clubs in the final, might well have taken the gloss off the old competition this season.
But it's unlikely to have lessened the desire of Pegasus, Cork Harlequins, Loreto and Railway Union to make it through to the May 11th decider.
Only Muckross (15) have won the ISC more times than Pegasus (14), but the Belfast side haven’t prevailed in the competition since 2011, UCD putting paid to their hopes of going level with Muckross at the top of the roll of honour with last year’s 4-0 final victory.
Pegasus, though, are on a roll at the moment having won their last seven matches, scoring 23 goals en route, a run that has left them just a point away from clinching the Hockey League title. And Cork Harlequins, the team they beat 3-0 in Belfast last weekend to put them within touching distance of the league crown, are their visitors again on Sunday.
Harlequins will at least have the comfort of knowing the prolific Shirley McCay will be in Dublin training with the Irish squad on this occasion rather than peppering them with penalty corner strikes. But, even in her absence, Pegasus will still be favourites to go through.
The other semi-final, Loreto against Railway Union, looks a little more unpredictable because nearly half of Loreto's side will be unavailable, whereas Railway will be without just one international – albeit, a hugely important player for them, Sarah Hawkshaw.
Loreto, who knocked holders UCD out in a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-finals, have double Railway’s points tally in the Hockey League, but even with their full complement of players they were pushed close when the teams met last month, winning 3-2 in the end.
This game, though, will be a test of the strength of their squad in the absence of the experience of players such as Nicci Daly, Hannah Matthews and Ali Meeke and the goal-scoring abilities of Sarah Torrans. If they make it through, they'll be one step away from their first ISC triumph since 2010 – when they beat Railway on strokes in the final.
Fixtures: Irish Senior Cup – Saturday – Semi-finals: Pegasus v Cork Harlequins, Queens, 1.0; Loreto v Railway Union, Grange Road, 1.30.
Hockey League - Saturday: Ards v Muckross, Ards, Park, 2.30.