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Weekend Preview

Instonians can go level on points at the top of the Ulster Premier League table on Saturday if they can defeat Kilkeel following a first defeat of the campaign for Bangor on Thursday night. 

The seasiders, who went into the game on the back of five straight wins, lost 2-1 to Portadown at the Aurora Complex. Adam Stevenson put the Ports ahead after nine minutes as Bangor were slow to settle but the hosts drew level  through a Ryan Burgess penalty-corner five minutes before half-time.

Bangor had several chances to go in front after the break but couldn't capitalise and Portadown made them pay for their profligacy when Gareth Titler grabbed the winner with 15 minutes left. On Saturday, Instonians will have a chance to take advantage of Bangor's slip-up when they entertain Kilkeel at Shaw's Bridge as they bid to make it five wins on the bounce.

However, the Co Down side are also going well and remain unbeaten after three matches and are sure to make life difficult for Steven Redpath's side. Both teams will be using the game as preparation for their upcoming Kirk Cup semi-final clash which is scheduled for next week.

The same applies to Civil Service and Mossley, who are at home to South Antrim and Newry respectively and meet in the Kirk semi on Tuesday night at Shaw's Bridge (8.15pm).

Cliftonville have still to register a point but will be reasonably optimistic about the prospect of doing at least that when they host Raphoe. Queen's got off them mark last week when they beat Cliftonville but they are likely to find it tougher against North Down this weekend at the Dub. Belfast Harlequins have had their ups and downs already this season and they face a tricky trip to Antrim as they bid to bounce back from last week's 4-2 home loss to Kilkeel. 

In the EYHL, Lisnagarvey will be confident of keeping their unbeaten run intact when they travel to Dublin to play Railway Union. Garvey were derailed by Cookstown at Comber Road last weekend when they lost their 100% record as the Tyrone side twice came from behind to draw 2-2.

Cookstown are on a bit of a 'mini-roll' at the moment, having picked up four points from their last two EYHL games and also reached the second round of the Irish Senior Cup at the expense of Instonians. However, they don't come much tougher than Three Rock Rovers, who visit Steelweld Park on Saturday although team captain Jon Ames believes last week's draw at Garvey will have boosted confidence in the camp.

"It was great to get a result like that, particularly against a team like Lisnagarvey who are riding the crest of a wave at the moment." he said.

"Hopefully we can use this in a positive manner; to keep improving and driving us on at training and in the matches to come.We got a bit of luck for the first goal, but I think the most positive thing is that we were able to stamp our style on a great deal of the match and kept playing despite going behind."



Annadale, who are tied with Cookstown on four points travel to Dublin to take on Monkstown in a game which will see player-coach Peter Caruth up against his ex-team mates. Banbridge find themselves in unfamiliar territory in the bottom-four as they look to respond to last week's defeat by Three Rock when they host leaders Glenanne.

Bann haven't had their troubles to seek with Irish internationals Johnny McKee and Eugene Magee both on the long-term injury list.

In the women's Ulster Premier League, leaders Dungannon have a tough trip to champions Lurgan after losing 2-1 to the Co Armagh side in the Denman Ulster Shield in the teams' last meeting. Ballymoney trail only on goal difference and could well find them selves in pole position come tea-time Saturday as they play host to Rainey, who are finding life in the top-flight tough to date.

Mossley, who also made the step-up, are undefeated after three matches but that record will be given a stern examination by Queen's at the Glade while Ulster Elks will be fancied to secure a first win against pointless Portadown at Jordanstown.

In Senior One, leaders Lisnagarvey sit out the action giving Priorians the chance to overtake them as they will start hot favourites to overcome Armagh at Ardmore. On Thursday night, Leah Ternahan scored the vital goal as CI defeated Knock 1-0 while, on Wednesday, Claire Gillespie and Rebekah Reynolds were on target for Ballymena in a 2-0 win over Ballyclare.

On Sunday, Garvey take on Victorians  and Ballymena are up against Raphoe in the semi-finals of the Senior Cup which is being staged as a double-header at Stormont

Also on Sunday, in the EYHL, Ards will be out to make it three wins in a row when they host Loreto when the Dubliners will be aiming to erase the memory of a 6-0 drubbing by Pegasus on their last visit north. Pegasus should pile more misery on basement side Monkstown but won't take anything for granted as the Leinster side pushed Ards all the way last weekend only to lose 1-0.



Belfast Harlequins will be confident of beating struggling Trinity but their former international star Jenny McAuley insists her team can't afford to be complacent even after a very creditable draw with Cork Harlequins last weekend. 

"We were close to taking three points against Cork on Sunday after losing 3-2 to Railway the day before but our performances were encouraging and we look forward to playing these teams in the return fixtures." she said.

"Sunday’s game against Trinity is a great opportunity for us to get three more points on the board and maintain our unbeaten home record. However, we cannot underestimate our opponents as Trinity are fresh from a recent draw against Railway and will be feeling confident going into the clash."


FIXTURES
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Saturday
EYHL

Banbridge v Glenanne 2.45pm @ Havelock Park
Cookstown v Three Rock 2.30pm @ Steelweld Park
Monkstown v Annadale 2.30pm @ Merrion Fleet Arena
Railway v Lisnagarvey 3.00pm @ Railway Union

Ulster Premier League:

Antrim v Belfast HQ 2.30pm @ Antrim Forum
Cliftonville v Raphoe 2.30pm @ CIYMS
Instonians v Kilkeel 1.00pm @ Shaw’s Bridge
Mossley v Newry 2.30pm @ The Glade
NICS v South Antrim 2.30pm @ Stormont
Queen’s v North Down 2.30pm @ The Dub


WOMEN
Friday

Ulster Premier League:
Randalstown v Banbridge (7.30pm)

Saturday
EYHL:

Pembroke v Cork Harlequins (2.30pm)

Ulster Premier League: 
Ballymoney v Rainey (2.30pm)
Lurgan v Dungannon (2.30pm)
Mossley v Queen's (4pm)
Ulster Elks v Portadown (1pm)

Senior One: 

Armagh v Priorians (2.30pm)

Irish Hockey Trophy: 
Enniskillen v Greenfields II
Civil Service v Portrane
Wicklow v Dromore

Sunday
EYHL:

Ards v Loreto (2pm)
Belfast Harlequins v Trinity (2pm)
Monkstown v Pegasus (2.30pm)
Railway Union v UCD (2.40pm)

Senior Cup Semi-Finals (Stormont):
Lisnagarvey v Victorians (1pm)
Ballymena v Raphoe (3pm)



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