Ards will have to regroup quickly after Tuesday night’s agonizing 5-3 Ulster Premier League defeat by Pegasus if they are to keep alive their hopes of winning the Irish Hockey League.
Tomorrow the Irish indoor champions travel to Dublin to face Loreto needing to avoid defeat, or preferably secure a win, to stay in the mix for a semi final place.
They have a recent score to settle having lost out in extra time to the Leinster side in last year’s IHL semi final iin Dublin.
In Tuesday night’s defeat by Pegasus, whose win clinched them the Ulster title, there were signs of fatigue in the second half and no wonder.
Ards won the European Indoor Championship III title two weeks earlier after a gruelling weekend in Budapest which involved six matches in three days.That perhaps took it’s toll earlier in the week when they seemed to tire in the second half as they threw away a 3-1 lead to lose to Pegasus who went on to score four goals without reply.
Ards cannot afford to lose to Loreto tomorrow after going down 2-0 to Cork Harlequins at the weekend.
“Our play lacked intensity in that game and in the second half against Pegasus although we did have our chances in Cork and didn’t take them.” said team manager Phil Mills.
“It was certainly a set back we could have done without and it adds a bit of pressure as we can’t afford another defeat in our remaining Pool games.We lost to Loreto’ in last year’s semi final but I have heard they have lost a couple of players since then though they will still be very difficult.” especially in Dublin.”
Pegasus, boosted by winning yet another Ulster title, take on Cork Harlequins at Upper Malone as they bid to make it three wins in a row and book a semi final place.
Last weekend Harlequins sounded a warning to Pegasus when they defeated Ards in Cork and the Munster side have been boosted by the return of two former Ireland players.
Rachael Kohler and Karen Bateman, who had been playing for the club’s second eleven until recently, made a winning comeback at the weekend.
“Rachael was captain of the Irish team at the 2002 World Cupin Perth and is a super left sided midfielder while Karen is a very skilful and exciting striker.” said Pegs coach Michelle Rainey..
“Karen played for the Ireland select team that met Pegasus in Arlene Boyles’ testimonial in September and she still looked a great player then.
“Their return obviously helped them at the weekend so we know we are in for a really tough game on Saturday.
“But we will not read too much into that result and games in Cork are always difficult after the long journey so we are glad we have got them at home.”
Pegasus go into the game on the back of two IHL wins, coupled with that domestic title clinching victory over Ards, and maximum points tomorrow would almost certainly be enough to clinch them a semi final place.
They opened with a 5-2 win over Old Alex and then defeated Ballymoney 4-1 at the Joey Dunlop Centre and made it 14 goals in four games with that crucial victory over Ards on Tuesday night.
“We have been very happy with the way we have been playing and the way we’ve been scoring a lot of goals but we still don’t think we are good enough to win the IHL just yet.” added the Pegasus coach.
In the same section on Saturday Ballymoney will be looking for their first win when they host Old Alex while it’s the same scenario for Lurgan and Hermes who meet in a Pool B match at the Co Armagh venue although both are out of contention for a place in the last four.