Ulster Elks and Queen’s head for Cork clashes

Ards and Ireland's Chloe Brown
Ards and Ireland's Chloe Brown

With no EY IHL action this weekend, the focus of attention will be on the Premier League while Queen’s and the Ulster Elks will be in Cork for the Irish Inter-varsities championship.

The Elks will be playing as Ulster University as they defend their Chilean Cup title as only bona-fide students are eligible to take part.

At domestic level, Ulster Premier League leaders Lurgan, who have four wins from four starts, have a day off as they were scheduled to play Queen’s.

The top match sees Randalstown, who are four points off the pace, taking on Lisnagarvey, who are a further point behind, at the Antrim Forum.

Second-placed Belfast Harlequins have also made a solid start to the new campaign and they entertain Portadown at Deramore.

Newly-promoted Dungannon and North Down meet at the Tyrone venue while the bottom-two Armagh and Ballymoney go head-to-head at Ardmore.

Armagh will be hoping to end an eight game losing streak which started, ironically, after they scored a 3-1 win over Money in the corresponding Ulster Shield game.

Meanwhile Irish international Shirley McCay has been ruled out of the UU University squad for the trip to Cork.

But the Jordanstown outfit have found a more than adequate replacement in Ards striker Chloe Brown.

Ireland’s most-capped player McCay, with 209 international appearances under her belt, has been rested for the weekend event which involves up to four matches in three days.

McCay has had a busy summer with virtually non-stop hockey due to Ireland commitments at the World League 2 tournament in Valencia in June which was quickly followed by the European Championship trip to Prague the following month.

However Brown, in contrast, should be fresh after missing out on the abortive Olympic qualifying bid in Spain and then taking time out due to a knee injury after playing for Ireland at the Euros.

She has been in good form at club level and has scored three times in two IHL matches for Ards after sitting out the opening 3-3 draw with Pegasus.

UU are up against IHL rivals UCC, along with DCU, while Queen’s are in a group also containing a UCD side, which includes Ulster and Ireland star Katie Mullan, and Trinity, with the top two in each section progressing to Sunday’s semi-finals.

It is a very important tournament for the university as this is the pinnacle of Irish student sport and it also gives the girls an opportunity to try to get on to the Irish universities squad.” explained UU manager John Cathcart.

“We are defending the title and want to keep it, we know it will be tough but we hope we can bring the trophy back.”