Pegasus target January success

Pegasus coach, Michelle Rainey
Pegasus coach, Michelle Rainey

PEGASUS are targeting January as a crucially important month despite the fact their most difficult challenges may come later in the season.

The Ulster champions will be hoping to get back into Europe next season and to do that they will need to win one of the All Ireland trophies.

Ironically Pegasus put their failure to win either the Irish Cup or the Irish Hockey League down to the success they enjoyed in Europe competition at Easter.

They staged a superb comeback to beat Ukrainian side Sumchanka 4-3 to lift the gold medals on their own patch at the Dub.

But they lost team captain Arlene Boyles in the process and that was a major blow as Pegasus continued their defence of the all Ireland double they had won the previous season.

Pegasus also believed that the tremendous effort that went into staging the showpiece in Belfast on and off the pitch took it’s toll.

There was no escaping the fund-raising that was required from across the board right down to the players and they ultimately paid the cost.

It hasn’t been all plain sailing this season with a raft of postponements meaning that January will be all important, weather permitting of course.

They haven’t had the best of luck on that front so far with their Irish Cup tie with Catholic Institute falling victim to frost on two occasions already.

Those weren’t the only games to bite the dust as a midweek league match with Victorians also had to be called off.

The net result is that Pegasus haven’t played for a full month going into Saturday’s game with Portadown.

“It is going to be a very important January after a disjointed December - we played Ballymoney on December 1st and then were due to play in Limerick. “ said Pegasus coach Michelle Rainey.

“Then the rearranged game with Catholic Institute was also postponed as was a game with Victorians due to frost.”

So Pegasus will be hoping to hit the ground running this month which begins with that Portadown encounter on Saturday.

That should be one they can win with a degree of comfort as their opponents have struggled since making the leap from Senior One last season.

But much tougher challenges lie ahead with a possible Irish Cup game with UCD to come provided Pegasus eventually overcome Catholic Institute.

It was the Dublin students that ended Pegasus’s chances of returning to Europe this year with wins in the Irish Cup and IHL.

So they couldn’t have asked for a tougher draw a year later with the students also in the mix for a return meeting in the IHL with the Ulster champions.

“This is the second time time in the season we have had a three week break and it’s not good in terms of preparation and planning!” Michelle added.

“We need to be at the top of our game for the Irish Senior Cup so January is very important for us.

“It could see us into the fourth round of the Irish Cup and there are also six vital league points to be had with Lurgan to follow Portadown.”

And then there is the small matter of the Ulster Shield final to be staged in late January when Ballymoney will provide the opposition.

So a vital month for the Belfast side who will be hoping that what is traditionally the coldest time of the year turns out otherwise.