Harlequins and Kilkeel in the hunt for final IHL spot

Banbridge's Matthew Bell
Banbridge's Matthew Bell

One of any four teams can still qualify for next season’s Irish Hockey League but the pendulum has swung in the favour of Belfast Harlequins and Kilkeel.

Both sides are tied on 13 points each and they each have two games in hand over the other hopeful qualifiers, Annadale and Mossley.

However, Annadale will have a big say in the final outcome as they still have to play Harlequins and Kilkeel.

Indeed Dale look to have the easier run in, with the other three teams still to play the top four sides at some stage in the run to the end of the season.

Mossley play Kilkeel on Friday (8.15pm) at the Glade, and the visitors are missing David Finlay.

But this is Kilkeel’s first game of 2014, and they could be a tad rusty and a share of the spoils is a likely outcome.

Harlequins welcome back their player coach Johnny Caren, for their trip to Lisnagarvey. Caren has been away on international duty with the Irish senior squad and as coach of the Irish Under 21’s.

Garvey jumped to the top of the Premiership last week, but they saw Banbridge overhaul them after Bann defeated Mossley 4-2 midweek.

‘Garvey joined Banbridge at the top of the table following a 2-2 draw with Instonians on Thursday evening at Shaw’s Bridge.

Bann have a tough game this week against a Cookstown side that is back in the title race.

Matthew Bell and Johnny McKee return for Bann after injuries ruled them out, but both Magee brothers, Eugene and Owen, are doubtful for the important game.

Annadale are heading to Raphoe on the back of a home defeat last week. Dale will be hoping that they can pick up all three points against a side who look destined for a relegation play-off.

Instonians, are still hoping to claim third spot in the Premiership, and they should collect maximum points against bottom of the table Civil Service at Stormont.

It’s top v bottom when Senior One leaders Newry travel to Cliftonville who are stting at the bottom of the table with no points, and Newry look odds on to take all three points.

Second placed North Down must secure all three points against PSNI to remain in the title chase.

Portadown have been hit badly by injuries, with no fewer than four regular players missing. Geoff Edgar, Zach McClelland, Jonny Hassin and Neil Gilmore are all out for the Ports clash with Campbellians.

Senior Two leaders Portrush have a tough trip to Saintfield with second placed Ballynahinch at home to Armagh.

And there are still eight Ulster teams going into the last sixteen of the Irish Junior Cup with two Ulster teams guaranteed to reach the quarter finals.