Lurgan make superb start to all-Ireland title defence

Lurgan's Kathryn Edgar

Lurgan's Kathryn Edgar

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Senior Cup holders Lurgan College made a great start to the defence of their all Ireland title after opening with a 100 per cent record in Dublín on Thursday.

They opened with a 3-2 win over Crescent College and then beat Kilkenny College 4-0 to go to the top of the table overnight.

So barring an unexpected sequence of results a win and a draw in Friday’s games should be enough for them to retain the trophy.

Kathryn Edgar got Lurgan off to a dream start in the opening game when she scored with less than two minutes on the clock.

But Crescent fought back and scored twice to go ahead late in the first half before Lurgan captain Hannah Grieve levelled matters from a penalty corner before the break.

Samanatha Bann then set off on a great run midway though the second half to set up Tara McIlwaine for the winner.

The second game was more straightforward as Julie Morrow and Grieve scored to make it 2-0 at half time before Morrow again and Serena Hamilton added further goals after the restart.

Meanwhile, the first phase of the Irish Hockey League concludes on Saturday and the main Ulster interest will be centred on Pegasus’ trip to Dublín where they face Loreto.

The Ulster champions are already guarantted a last four slot as are Loreto but the race is on for top position in the Pool.

Pegasus need only a draw while their opponents need a win to overtake them and avoid a potentially more difficult semi final.

But Pegasus captain Kate McConnell points out that while she wants her team to secure the required result tomorrow it won’t matter that much.

“Whatever the outcome we will be the underdogs when we play either UCD or Railway Unión in the semi finals,” she explained.

“Obvously we will be going all out to beat Loreto as we try to win all our games but we will be using it as part of the preparation for the semi final.”

Pegasus made sure they went through their 18-game domestic campaign unbeaten with a 2-0 win over Randalstown earlier in the week and Mcconnell syas things are moving in the right direction with the IHL finals weekend to come.

“All the hard work and dedication since Christmas has brought us through allowing us to peak at the right time and we are looking forward to the games against the top Leinster sides.” she added.

There is much less at stake in the other IHL games involving Ulster sides and all three games are ‘dead rubbers.’

Lurgan did well to hold UCD to a 3-1 margin on Saturday and they face a long trip to Limerick to face Catholic Institute.

But they can look back with pride on their progress since losing to Connacht minnows Greenfields with a win over Hermes the highlight.

Ballymoney have been in disappointing form in the IHL and on Saturday will be aiming to avoid a whitewash when they too face a long journey to Munster to take on Cork Harlequins.

Ards have also faded badly after losing out to Pegasus in the Ulster title decider having won just their opening game in the IHL against ‘Money.

On Saturday they will be hoping to bounce back when they host Old Alex at the Co Down venue.

Ulster Elks coach Ricky Lee will be an interested spectator as his side have been drawn to meet Alex in the semi final of the IHL wild card play off series.

That will determine the last available place in next year’s all Ireland competition. with the winners of that game to take on either Munster or Connacht opposition to progress.

Kate Russell Cup results: Crescent College 2 Lurgan College 3; Kilkenny College 5 Salerno 0; St Andrew´s 3 Crescent College 4; Lurgan College 4 Kilkenny College 0, St Andrew´s 5 Salerno 0.

Friday: Salerno v Lurgan College (12.30pm); St Andrew´s v Lurgan College (3.30pm).