Tough task ahead but Pegasus have focus on European dream

Pegasus Coach Michelle Rainey

Pegasus Coach Michelle Rainey

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After a season that started with low expectations Pegasus now find themselves with a good chance of being just 70 minutes away from a coveted place in Europe as the go into Saturday’s IHL semi final with Railway Union in Banbridge.

Written off by many as far as the Ulster Premier League title race was concerned, Pegasus pipped Ards to the trophy and now need a win over the top Dublin side to possibly book a trip to the continent after a three year gap.

That’s because UCD will compete in the European Club Championship if they can win the IHL as they have already lifted the Irish Senior Cup.

Understandably the rules state that the same team cannot take part in the two European competitions and and UCD are already assured of a place in the Cup Winners Cup.

Because the latter is the less prestigious than the Euro Club Championships a place in the other competition is awarded to the IHL runners up.

So if the students were to reach the IHL final on Sunday the rules dictate that the runners up would go through to the other Euro tournament.

However, Pegasus must first beat Railway on Saturdsay and if they don’t, then the Leinster side would face a similar scenario as far as Euro qualification is concerned.

The Ulster champions won’t be favourites, that’s for sure, but they feel that in a one-off situation they can do the business.

“It is going to be a massive task for us as they are such a strong team and it would take us to be at the top of our game to beat them and they would need to be below par,” confessed Pegasus coach Michelle Rainey.

“But knowing what is at stake, that’s why we weren’t too disappointed at finishing runners up in our Pool as it means we can be back in Europe after a gap of three years if we were to beat Railway.

“All we can do is prepare as best we can and that is why we are travelling to Banbridge the day before the game to help us focus on the task in hand.

“Thanks to our sponsors, Airtricity, the players won’t have to pay the full cost although they will all be making a contribution.

“We feel it is important to avoid any possible distractions and being together as a group will also help the team spirit within the squad.

“We did the same at the weekend before we played Loreto when we could easily have driven down and back to Dublin on the same day.”

Pegasus, of course, lost 2-1 to the Leinster side to surrender their unbeaten post-Christmas record but they’re hoping that was only a temporary blip.

“We trained very hard this week to prepare for the Railway game but we won’t be favourites so there is less pressure on us.” Michelle added.