Ards close in on league title as Quins face Garvey test

Sara Alexander
Sara Alexander

While Ards took another step towards the Ulster Premier League title earlier this week with a 3-2 win over Ballymoney, on Friday night the attention switches to the other end of the table.

Harlequins host Lisnagarvey at Deramore in their penultimate match as they bid to avoid the lottery of a promotion-relegation play off against Cookstown.

The Tyrone team lost 3-1 to Banbridge midweek handing Portadown the Senior One title but earlier Cookstown had clinched the runners up slot.

‘Quins are one of six teams who could still finish second bottom as just two points separate six teams from places three to nine in the table.

A draw would probably be seen as a satisfactory result for ‘Garvey and it is really a must win game for their opponents.

That’s because Harlequins last game is against Pegasus and they are unlikely to take anything in the way in points from that encounter.

Tomorrow Ards entertain Randalstown as they attempt to consolidate their position at the top of the table.

Wednesday night’s win over Ballymoney enabled them to move seven points clear of Pegs who have two games in hand.

“We were happy with the start we made against Ballymoney as we went 2-0 up in the first half.” said Ards captain Naomi Elliott.

“But we were less so at conceding two goals in the second to allow them back into the game. However we did well to score late on in dreadful conditions and it was an important three points for us.”

Sara Alexander has the knack of scoring crucial goals and her winner came with just four minutes remaining.

Everything still points to a title decider between Ards and Pegasus but the Co Down side will be glad to have the points on the board at this stage of the season.

Tomorrow Pegasus have a tricky trip to Lurgan who have done remarkably well since their coach Gary Blythe quit just before Christmas.

Since Lisa Costley took over the hot seat they have won four out of their five matches and a couple of weeks ago booked their place in the semi finals of the Irish Senior Cup.

Elsewhere tomorrow Queen’s can strengthen their claims for a top four place if they can beat relegated Armagh.

The students have still to play Lurgan and Randalstown as they bid to consolidate their fourth place in the table.

If they can win their last home game tomorrow then two or three more points should be enough to earn them a coveted place in the Irish Hockey League for the first time.

Ballymoney still are far from safe and tomorrow they are at home to the Ulster Elks for whom a draw would almost certainly secure their place in the IHL and ease the home side’s relegation fears at the same time.