Loreto aiming to maintain their unbeaten record at UCD’s expense
Double winners will be keen to avoid a second defeat in their first three outings
The pick of this weekend’s EY Hockey League fixtures is the meeting of the teams that, between them, won all of last season’s major honours, UCD – who did the Hockey League and Irish Senior Cup double – and Loreto, who upset the odds by triumphing in the Champions Trophy.
The wealth of young talent at both clubs was demonstrated this week when Dave Passmore named his Irish U-21 panel for the build-up to next summer’s Junior European Championships, UCD contributing eight players and Loreto seven to the 29-strong group.
Among those included is Hannah McLoughlin whose late goal against Ards last week got UCD off the mark after their opening day defeat to Pegasus, while her U-21 team-mates Sarah Torrans and Mia Jennings were among the goals for Loreto when they made it two wins out of two against Muckross.
Pegasus, meanwhile, will look to maintain their perfect record when they take on an Ards side that failed to score in either of their opening two games, although defensively they’ve been solid, conceding just a single score.
Cork Harlequins have also still to score and, along with Pembroke Wanderers, have still to get off the points mark, the team, under new coach Darren Collins, readjusting to life after the departures of international Róisín Upton and goalkeeper Emma Buckley, as well as the absence of the injured Naomi Carroll and Rebecca Barry who is taking a break.
Harlequins are away to their Belfast namesakes, who have taken four points from their first two games, while Pembroke will look to get their campaign up and running at Serpentine Avenue when they host a Railway Union side that have started brightly, beating Old Alexandra 3-0 before drawing with Belfast Harlequins last weekend.
Alexandra, who take on Muckross on Saturday, bounced back from that defeat with a 1-0 win away to Cork Harlequins in their second outing, former international Áine Connery getting the winner for her new club.