Ballymoney captain Lauren Barr has been ruled out of action for longer than expected as she struggles to overcome a bad knee injury.
She had hoped to be back playing again at the start of the New Year but that has had to be delayed as she awaits an appointment for a scan.
Naturally the Irish international defender will miss Saturday’s tricky trip to Lurgan as Ballymoney attempt to keep the pressure up on defending champions Pegasus.
‘Money can’t afford too many slip ups as they are two points worse off than their biggest rivals going into 2013.
But Lurgan will certainly not be an easy proposition as they have built on the form that enabled them to finish third last season.
In striker Lucy McKee they have one of the most prolific scorers in Ulster women’s hockey and she is equally adept at the indoor game having hit 10 in four matches before Christmas.
That was at the Ulster Champiopnship at the Queen’s PE Centre which was Lurgan’s last series of outings although Lucy had to miss the final game due to academic and other commitments.
Lurgan chose to compete at the indoor showpiece to keep themselves ticking over as much as anything else but almost ended up qualifying for the national finals.
No one will be able to tell whether or not they would have pipped Ards had the gifted teenage striker been available for the deciding game.
But one thing is for sure - at least Lurgan have had some hockey to play while those who chose not to take part in the indoor competition have been twiddling their thumbs as far as competitive games are concerned.
Ballymoney, in contrast, haven’t had a match for several weeks and their Irish Cup win over Corinthian in Dublin on December 9th was their last outing.
Lurgan lost their last outdoor game a week earlier when they went down to Queen’s so they, too, will be anxious not to slip up.
Should either Lurgan or ‘Money do just that then Pegasus should be in position to take full advantage as they face Portadown at the Dub.
The Ports have struggled since securing promotion last season and have just two points to their name.
But they won’t be targeting the Pegasus game as one they will realistically expect to get something out of.
It is the return fixture with Victorians, who have a day off on Saturday, which could determine their fate after the teams drew 2-2 in the first instalment.
Elsewhere on Saturday improving Armagh tackle the Ulster Elks at Ardmore hoping to build on their last performance.
That was in the Irish Senior Cup when they held mighty Hermes to a 2-2 draw after extra time only to lose via the lottery of a penalty shoot-out.
The Jordnastown side, in contrast, were below par in losing 3-0 to Ards in the cup and will be out to erase the memory of that display tomorrow.