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Weekend Preview

An exciting weekend's hockey action starts on Friday night when Banbridge host Lisnagarvey in an intriguing Ulster derby in the EYHL at Havleock Park.

Bann have moved back into play-off contention after a thumping 7-1 win over Cookstown recently while Garvey are in need of points to keep in the title hunt. It's a double-headed weekend in the all Ireland competition with three Ulster sides also in action on Sunday.

Garvey travel to Monkstown while Banbridge should be capable of beating basement team Railway Union particularly with home advantage. Annadale will be looking to boost their survival chances with a positive result against Three Rock Rovers but won't start favourites against last season's play-off winners.

Cookstown, who are in the relegation play-off spot, will be hoping to avenge that heavy defeat to Bann when they travel to Dublin to face mid-table Pembroke

It's also a big weekend at domestic level with the final round of matches before the 'split' into two groups of seven in the Ulster Premier. The match of the day looks to be the meeting of Belfast Harlequins and Instonians at Deramore with Portadown hosting Raphoe and South Antrim entertaining Mossley elsewhere.

On the women's front, six Ulster players are in the 28-strong Ireland squad currently in Spain, where they won 2-0 with goals from Katie Mullan and Lena Tice on Thursday after an opening 7-0 loss. However, Megan Frazer was unable to travel as she is still recovering from a bad injury and has been unable to play for 16 months.

Ireland's loss has been Ulster Elks' gain as Frazer has been coaching the club while she undergoes rehab after suffering cruciate ligament damage. The Jordanstown side have been putting together some good results recently after a slow start to their Ulster Premier League campaign but they face a stiff test against second-placed Dungannon on Friday night. 

Elks captain Emma Quinn said: "Dungannon are playing very well but we are looking forward to the challenge. We didn't perform as well as we expected earlier in season against them and are looking to rectify that."

"Megan has been great about the club, sharing her knowledge and understanding with the players and helping them improve their skills."

Ballymoney, who are ahead of Dungannon on goal diffference at the top, are also in action on Friday night when they face Randalstown at the Antrim Forum. On Saturday, champions Lurgan face an improving Banbridge side, who have pulled well clear of the drop-zone in recent weeks. Queen's, who have three games in hand on their main rivals, will be out to make it eight straight wins when they face struggling Rainey in Magherafelt.

There is a crucial game at Comber where the bottom-two, North Down and Portadown meet head-on. Ports' coach Bruce McCandless is hoping his players can replicate the form they showed in a 2-0 loss against Queen's last Saturday.



Although under the cosh for most of the 70 minutes, they defended heroically although they have missed star striker Leanne Cassels who has boosted Dungannon's roster.

McCandless said: "The season so far has been a huge learning block for a young side and we knew going into the season it would be tough. But with players leaving and a lightened squad, it's only made it harder although the girls are very much up for the challenge to stay up." 

"We can take great pride from our performance against Queen's and if we can produce a similar display against North Down, it should be a good game." 

In Senior One, leaders Lisnagarvey have a tough one against Victorians at Comber Road while Ballymena will be out to maintain their challenge away to Ballyclare.


FIXTURES
Men

Friday
EYHL

Banbridge v Lisnagarvey 8.00pm @ Havelock Park

Saturday
Premier

Belfast HQ v Instonians 2.30pm @ Deramore Park
Portadown v Raphoe 1.00pm @ Edenvilla
South Antrim v Mossley 2.30pm @ Friends School

Sunday
EYHL

Banbrdge v Railway 2.30pm@Havelock Park
Monkstown v Lisnagarvey 4pm@ Merrion Fleet Arena
Pembroke v Cookstown 2.30pm@Serpentine Avenue
TRR v Annadale Grange Road@2pm


WOMEN
Friday

Randalstown v Ballymoney  7.30pm @ Antrim Forum
Ulster Elks v Dungannon  8.00pm @ UUJ

Saturday
Premier

Lurgan v Banbridge 2.30pm @ Lurgan JHS
North Down v Portadown 2.30pm @ Comber LC
Rainey v Queen’s 2.30pm @ Meadowbank Sports Arena

Senior 1
Ballyclare v Ballymena 1.00pm @ Ballyclare HS
Lisnagarvey v Victorians 1.00pm @ Comber Road
Priorians v Armagh 2.30pm @ St Columbs Park
Raphoe v Omagh 1.00pm @ Royal & Prior

McConnell Shield QFs

Limavady v Queen’s 2
Dromore v Pegasus 2
Larne v Belfast HQ 2



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Copyright © 2012 Ulster Hockey.  Photos courtesy of Rowland WhiteDeveloped by ecom