Loreto aiming to overtake Railway Union in final weekend of Hockey League
Monkstown brace for must-win encounter against UCD as relegation looms
Railway Union and Loreto are targeting the last Champions Trophy qualifying place. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Five of the 10 Hockey League clubs have plenty to play for going in to the final weekend of the competition, Railway Union and Loreto still battling it out for the last Champions Trophy qualifying place, while Monkstown, Trinity and Pembroke Wanderers are in a scrap at the other end of the table.
When fourth-placed Railway beat Belfast Harlequins back on March 10th it put them seven points clear of Loreto, but they haven’t won a game since, drawing three and losing one, that gap narrowing to three points. And Loreto, unbeaten in five, have a game in hand, so they could yet overtake Railway.
Railway’s final game is away to Cork Harlequins who, along with champions UCD and third-placed Pegasus, have already qualified for the Champions Trophy. With the pressure off last weekend Harlequins weren’t at their sharpest, losing to Loreto and drawing with Trinity on home turf. Railway will hope that they’re not at their best this weekend either.
Loreto’s final two opponents are Trinity, away, and, on Sunday, Pegasus at Beaufort. What could yet be a deciding factor in the battle for fourth is Railway’s superior goal difference, currently 10 to the better.
Trinity, second from bottom, lost 4-0 to Loreto when they met a fortnight ago, but they’ll need a reverse of that result if they are to have any hope of leapfrogging Pembroke who are a point ahead of them with a vastly stronger goal difference. Regardless of what Trinity do against Loreto, Pembroke can secure their Hockey League place if they come away from Belfast Harlequins with a win.
Meanwhile Monkstown, two points behind Trinity, need to produce the shock of the season if they are to avoid automatic relegation, their opponents on Saturday UCD at Belfield. The winners of this weekend’s Provincial Finals at UCC will replace the bottom club in next season’s Hockey League, while the runners-up will meet Pembroke or Trinity in a promotion/relegation play-off.
Hockey League - Saturday: Cork Harlequins v Railway Union, Farmers Cross, 12.30; Belfast Harlequins v Pembroke Wanderers, Deramore Park, 2.30; Pegasus v Ards, Queens, 2.30; Trinity v Loreto, Santry Avenue, 2.30; UCD v Monkstown, Belfield, 2.30.
Sunday: Loreto v Pegasus, Beaufort, 3.0.
Hockey League Provincial Finals (at UCC) - Saturday: Lurgan v UCC, 10.25; NUIG v Muckross, 11.45; Old Alexandra v Lurgan, 1.30; UCC v NUIG, 3.0; Muckross v Old Alexandra.
Sunday: NUIG v Lurgan, 9.30; Muckross v UCC, 11.0; Old Alexandra v NUIG, 12.30; Lurgan v Muckross, 4.0; UCC v Old Alexandra, 5.30.