Lurgan face stern examination from Leinster champions UCD

Lurgan's Kathryn Edgar in action against Greenfields
Lurgan's Kathryn Edgar in action against Greenfields

Lurgan could face a damage limitation exercise when they travel to Dublin to take on Leinster champions and Irish Senior Cup holders UCD in Pool B of the Irish Hockey League on Saturday.

They fell to a heavy defeat in their opening IHL game going down 7-0 to Railway Union and UCD are rated a slightly better side having won their domestic league a few weeks ago.

Kate Mullan, the former Ballymoney and current Ireland striker, has been in imperious form of late and she hit a hat trick against Greenfields at the weekend.

But Lurgan will take heart from last week’s impressive 1-0 win over Hermes as they try to avoid another heavy defeat after that result against Railway.

“It looks like the Pool will be decided on goal difference so UCD will be out to score as many as possible against us so it could be a backs-to-the-wall exercise.” said Lurgan manager Darwin Murray.

“Hopefully though we can build on our performance against Hermes when we scored a good goal and could have had a couple more.

“But they put us under a lot of pressure in the final quarter and we had to defend very well to keep them out.

“Our goalkeeper Naomi Costley played very well as did the back four and it’s going to take another big effort but hopefully the girls will have learned from the Railway game.

“If we had beaten Greenfields then we would have had a chance of going through but we will now be playing for pride more than anything else.”

So too will be Ards if they fail to beat Pegasus in the other section as they bid keep their slim hopes of a semi final place alive at Upper Malone.

But it’s highly unlikely they will progress to the last four after a poor sequence of results culminating in a third straight defeat when they lost 3-1 to Loreto in Dublin at the weekend.

They had opened their IHL campaign with a big win over Ballymoney but a 2-0 loss to Cork Harlequins coupled with last Saturday’s result has all but ended their chances of booking a place in the semi finals.

In between those two games Ards saw their hopes of a first Ulster title for half a century with a 5-3 defeat by Pegasus.

A few weeks earlier Ards played six games in the space of three days to lift the European Indoor Championship III title and they believe their outdoor form suffered as a consequence.

“We conceded a couple of ‘soft’ goals against Pegasus and while we were certainly up for the game.

“ I think there were signs of mental and physical fatigue in the second half of the game.” said Ards team manager Phil Mills..

“We certainly want to compete in the indoor tournament next year after winning promotion but we will probably look at how we manage all our commitments.

“We will obviously lose a weekend when we are away so perhaps we will try and fit in an extra game before Christmas rather than after it next season.”

Ards will be hoping to have shaken off any residual fatigue tomorrow when they have a chance to avenge that league defeat.

In the same Pool, Ballymoney will be aiming to get off the mark after three consecutive losses when they play host to Loreto at the Joey Dunlop Centre.

It has been a disappointing campaign for ‘Money so far after an impressive end to the domestic season which saw them clinch a place in next year’s IHL.