Pegasus seek solace in IHL after Premier League title blow

Pegasus' Stephanie Thompson
Pegasus' Stephanie Thompson

Having seen their chances of retaining the Premier League title dealt a major blow last week, Pegasus will be turning their attention to the all Ireland stage tomorrow when they take on Lurgan in the IHL.

A 1-0 defeat by the Ulster Elks may prove fatal at domestic level but, in a slightly ironic twist, the Belfast side are the only team from the province virtually guaranteed a place in the semi finals of the national competition.

That should become a reality on Saturday if Stephanie Thomson’s side can overcome Lurgan, who simply must score a rare win over the Ulster champions if they are to keep their chances of progression alive.

Pegasus and Hermes are currently joint top of the table on 10 points with Lurgan trailing by four so even a draw would not be enough for the Co Armagh side to have a chance of making the semi finals.

Meanwhile Ards and the Elks, who meet head on at the Co Down venue, could yet join Pegasus, should they go through, in the last four of the competition, albeit with a little help from the authorities.

Both teams have been thrown a lifeline despite an indifferent start to their campaign as reigning champions UCD have been docked four points for fielding an ineligible player earlier in the competition.

So, if there’s a winner in Saturday’s all-Ulster clash then that team could yet qualify for the knock out stages.

Currently Loreto sit at the top of the Pool B table on nine points with UCD one behind following their deduction.

Ards are now just a point in arrears of the Dublin students with the Elks a solitary point behind their local rivals, adding extra significance to the encounter.

The final Pool game sees UCD travel to Jordanstown to face the Elks while Ards are away to Loreto so Saturday’s game is one neither local side can really afford to lose.

“It should be interesting considering both teams will be at full strength with their Irish internationals still available and it’s a hard one to call,” says Ards captain Naomi Elliott.

Saturday’s will be the fourth meeting between the sides this season and so far Ards have had the upper hand.

They drew the first Premier League game 2-2 but went on to win the return fixture and also defeated the Elks in the Ulster Shield semi final.

The Elks are awaiting a fitness report on midfielder Kirstie Lammey, who has a strained stomach muscle which ruled her out of Saturday’s win over Pegasus.

Ballymoney have no chance of making it out of the group but will be hoping to build on their recent impressive run of form when they host Hermes at the Joey Dunlop Centre.

There are just two Ulster Premier League games down for decision with Belfast Harlequins entertaining Portadown and Lisnagarvey facing Randalstown at Comber Road.

Meanwhile Armagh’s midweek Senior One game with Cookstown at Ardmore was abandoned due to the underfoot conditions after 20 minutes with the home team leading 3-0.