Ulster Elks out to retain their indoor title

Lucy McKee
Lucy McKee

Frost forced the postponement of the two scheduled midweek matches this week but that won’t be a problem as most senior women’s hockey moves indoors this weekend.

Queen’s PE Centre will host the third Ulster Championship with the Ulster Elks aiming to retain their crown although it was Ards who went on to win the national title.

Last year’s top two will start favourites to occupy the same positions when the tournament concludes on Wednesday night but the other teams might have something to say about that.

Lucy McKee stole the show when Armagh won the local tournament and the all Ireland title two years ago but she has now switched her allegiance to Lurgan.

She’s been hitting the target with monotonous regularity outdoors and her silky skills easily transfer to an indoor arena.

However it isn’t certain that she will be taking part on both days of the local tournament and if that’s the case her opponents on the day in question will heave a sigh of relief at her absense.

“At this stage we aren’t sure if she will be playing both days and it will depend on how she feels about it.” said Lurgan manager Darwin Murray.

Lurgan are, in theory one of the teams who won’t necessarily be too disappointed if they don’t go on to qualify for the national series.

Instead they are just glad to be playing some form of hockey as they won’t be back in outdoor action until the New Year and have had a couple of weeks off as they were not involved in the Irish Senior Cup last weekend.

The last time they played was when they beat Queen’s in their last Premier League outing and the teams will be renewing their rivalry indoors over the next few days.

Another player who is capable of winning a match virtually on her own is Queen’s striker Rachel Mulligan but she won’t be taking part in the indoor showpiece at all.

That, too, will come as a relief after she scored successive hat-tricks for the students in the Premier League.

Queen’s have had the benefit of training on their own court so allied to their good form outdoors will have a chance of upsetting the odds which suggest that Ards and the Elks will be the favourites to progress to the national play-offs.

There is just one Premier League game down for decision but it’s a crucially important contest for both teams as Randalstown entertain Victorians at the Antrim Forum.

Vics are anchored to the bottom of the table, one point adrift of Portadown, so they desperately need to be picking up some more and soon.

‘Town have proved they are a better side this season with two excellent draws against Pegasus to their name.

There are also two games in Senior One tomorrow as Lisnagarvey have a chance to go top if they can at least draw with Omagh while Larne take on Civil Service in the other match.