Ards on cusp of lifting Premier League crown

Ards Emma Reid fired a treble against Portadown
Ards Emma Reid fired a treble against Portadown

Ards are on the brink of lifting the Premier League title after an emphatic 5-0 home win over bottom of the table Portadown on Thursday night.

Former Ireland player Emma Reid scored a hat trick and the other two goals came from Chloe Brown after Ards had led 3-0 at half time.

After Thursday’s result, leaders Ards need just a maximum of six points from their remaining four matches to take the honours so it’s their title to lose.

The Ulster Elks kept their slim Premier League title hopes alive with a 5-1 win over Belfast Harlequins at Jordanstown on Wednesday night.

Ricky Lee’s side led 3-0 at the break after goals from Danielle McNally, Shirley McCay and Megan Frazer.

Jessica McMaster made it 4-0 shortly midway through the second half before Jenna Watt pulled one back but Laura McAlpine wrapped things up with the Elks’ fifth goal two minutes from the end.

In Wednesday night’s other Premier League game, Randalstown came from behind to beat Ballymoney 3-2 with a brace from Katherine Elkin and another goal for Nicole Moore with Tori Hastings and Bridget Cleland replying for the home team.

Meanwhile, the Elks will be without the suspended Kirstie Lammey for Saturday’s Irish Hockey League encounter with UCD after she was red carded in the same competition against Ards.

But Sarah MacAuley, who missed the epic Railway Union Irish Cup semi final win game due to family commitments, returns to the fray as the Elks aim to repeat their Irish Inter-varsities final success against their fellow students.

However, Lee is expecting a backlash from UCD, who were beaten 7-3 in the corresponding game at Upper Malone before Christmas.

The Elks can do Ards a favour if they can beat the Dublin side as that would leave their local rivals needing only a draw against Loreto to qualify for the semi finals.

Pegasus have already qualified for the IHL knock out stages and they will be now focusing on trying to win the other group as they take on UCC at Upper Malone.

Hermes will be expected to overcome Lurgan in Dublin so the top two places could well be decided on goal difference.

There are just two Premier League games down for decision on Saturday as Lisnagarvey take on Portadown and Queen’s travel to Deramore to play Harlequins.

Meanwhile, Armagh clinched the Senior One title and promotion to the top flight next season after securing the point they needed from a 0-0 draw with North Down in Comber on Wednesday night.