UCD versus Hermes-Monkstown the pick of Irish Senior Cup games
Something has to give this time as both clubs, unbeaten to date this season, clash at Belfield
The cream has risen to the top in the cup this season with the top five in the Irish Hockey League all making it through to the last eight. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
A week after helping Ireland ease to success at the World League 2 in Kuala Lumpur, the Hermes-Monkstown, UCD, Cork Harlequins and Loreto contingents in the squad will be back on duty with their clubs in Saturday’s Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals.
The cream has risen to the top in the cup this season with the top five in the Irish Hockey League all making it through to the last eight, along with another two from the lower half of the table, Ballymoney the only non-IHL side to reach this stage.
With home advantage they might just fancy their chances too of booking a semi-final spot, their opponents Pembroke Wanderers for whom the IHL has been a struggle, picking up just four points from their 10 games so far.
Their last outing in the competition, though, was a surprise 2-1 win at Railway Union last month, so if they can replicate that form they’d be hopeful of surviving Ballymoney’s challenge.
Ards, last season’s beaten finalists, know they will have to up their game if they are to get past a Cork Harlequins side that beat them 3-1 on Ards’ turf in the IHL in November.
There was nothing to separate Loreto and Pegasus, though, when they met in the same month, the sides drawing 2-2 at Queens. Loreto are the hosts this time around in a contest between two clubs with exceptional Cup pedigree, the pair having won the competition seven times between them since 2000.
The tie of the round, though, is undoubtedly the meeting of UCD and Hermes-Monkstown at Belfield, both sides unbeaten in all competitions so far this season - including in the Jacqui Potter Cup where they reached the semi-finals last weekend in the absence of their internationals.
Their only meeting this season ended in a 1-1 draw at Belfield in the IHL last month, one of the rare occasions when Hermes’ Anna O’Flanagan, Player of the Tournament at the World League 2, was kept scoreless. There will have to be a winner on Saturday, though, so one flawless 2016-17 record will end.
Irish Senior Cup - Quarter-finals: Loreto v Pegasus, Beaufort, 1.15; Ards v Cork Harlequins, Ards Park, 2.30; Ballymoney v Pembroke Wanderers, Joey Dunlop Centre, 2.30; UCD v Hermes-Monkstown, Belfield, 2.50.