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Weekend Preview

Queen's University and Lurgan will start favourites to overcome first-time semi-finalists Banbridge and Mossley at Stormont on Sunday respectively to set up a repeat of last year's Denman Ulster Shield decider.

Lurgan won the Boxing Day showpiece 3-1 but Queen's went on to lift the President's Cup as they ended their trophy drought, having also reached the previous two deciders in both competitions without a win.

However, students' coach Simon Bell says he won't be taking anything for granted against Bann after a closely-fought Ulster Premier League game recently.
"We are looking forward to the Ulster Shield semi-final on Sunday. We played them in the first league match of the season at Havelock Park and it was a tight game which we won 1-0. " he said.

"So we are expecting another close game on Sunday and we aware that they have a number of dangerous players. Our new players have settled in well and, in spells, we are playing some good hockey, although we tend to blow a bit 'hot and cold'." 

"Therefore, our challenge as the season progresses, will be to play with greater consistency and to get a better return on the chances we are creating. We would love to play in a third consecutive Ulster Shield final but to do that we will have to produce a good performance on Sunday."



Meanwhile, Mossley captain Louise Creighton is pleasantly surprised to be competing in a Denman Ulster Shield semi-final, having resigned herself to be stepping down from top-flight hockey when she joined the club. A previous winner of the famous trophy when with Randalstown, Creighton's team have been going well in their first season in the Ulster Premier League although their captain believes her side will be underdogs when they face the current league champions.

"Apart from myself, this is new territory for the girls so we've told them to enjoy the occasion but to use it as another mechanism to get better. " said Louise.

"It's a little bit surreal just being there as far as my own career is concerned because, four seasons ago I came back to my home club to wind down and four seasons later I'm back to the league I left. To play against the likes of Randalstown in the league  is a bitter -sweet game because they were a massive part of my career but Mossley is my home. 

"As far as Lurgan are concerned we know very little about them but will treat them with the respect they deserve as they will go into the game as favourites but we'll enjoy the occasion."

In a busy weekend, particularly in the women's game, there is also an EYHL double-header with leaders Pegasus playing two games in Dublin. First up, it's champions UCD followed by a game with Pembroke Wanderers 24 hours later.

The two Leinster rivals fought out a scoreless draw on Sunday after Pegasus had beaten Loreto 6-0. Belfast Harlequins will be hoping to build on Sunday's win over Ards when they take on Railway Union on Saturday before hosting their Cork namesakes 24 hours later. Ards will hope to bounce back from that loss at Deramore when they entertain newly-promoted Trinity and then travel to Dublin to face struggling Monkstown.



On the men's scene, Ulster Premier League leaders Bangor will be out to make it five wins from five when they travel to Lisburn to face South Antrim. Instonians are away to Newry as they attempt to justify their title favourites tag by keeping their unbeaten league record intact while challengers North Down host Civil Service.

Three of the four EYHL teams from the province will be at home on Saturday with Cookstown facing a daunting trip to Lisnagarvey, who put 10 goals past Cork c of I in their last outing at Comber Road. Banbridge and Annadale will be hoping to bounce back from losses on Sunday when they play host to champions Three Rock Rovers and Pembroke Wanderers respectively.


FIXTURES
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Saturday
EYHL

Annadale v Pembroke 2.30pm @ Strathearn
Banbridge v Three Rock 2.45pm @ Havelock Park
Lisnagarvey v Cookstown 3.00pm @ Comber Road

Ulster Premier League
Belfast HQ v Kilkeel 2.30pm @ Deramore
Newry v Instonians 2.30pm @ Newry HC
North Down v NICS 4.00pm @ Comber LC
Portadown v Antrim 1.00pm @ Edenvilla
Queen’s v Cliftonville 2.30pm @ The Dub
Raphoe v Mossley 2.30pm @ Royal & Prior
South Antrim v Bangor 2.30pm @ Friends’ School


WOMEN
Friday

Ulster Premier League
Portadown v North Down (8.15pm)

Saturday
EYHL:

Ards v Trinity (2.30pm)
Loreto v Pembroke (1.15pm)
Monkstown v Cork Harlequins (12.30pm)
Railway Union v Belfast Harlequins (3pm)
UCD v Pegasus (3pm)

Ulster Premier League:
Ballymoney v Randalstown (2.30pm)
Dungannon v Ulster Elks (2.30pm)

Senior One:
Ballyclare v Lisnagarvey (2.30pm)
Ballymena v Priorians (2.30pm)
Knock v Omagh (4pm)

Senior Cup:
Raphoe v Armagh

Sunday
EYHL:

Belfast Harlequins v Cork Harlequins (1pm)
Monkstown v Ards (3pm)
Pembroke v Pegasus (2.30pm)
Railway Union v Trinity (2.40pm)
UCD v Loreto (2.50pm)

Denman Ulster Shield Semi-Finals (Stormont):
Banbridge v Queen's (1pm)
Lurgan v Mossley (3pm)



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