Cork Harlequins women will have to adjust their plans at short notice with the news that the EY Champions Trophy play-offs have been switched at short notice from Banbridge to Grange Road in Dublin.
The end-of-season play-offs had been set for Havelock Park in February as part of a two-year contract, with the first event set to mark the opening of their brand new astroturf. Work began on replacing the old pitch in early March but it was confirmed earlier this week it would not be completed in time for the tournament, which starts on May 5.
As such, Hockey Ireland sought out alternative venues, with Three Rock — the host venue in 2017 — co-opted, giving their men home advantage for the finals weekend.
For Quins, it means a shorter road trip for their playoff tie which looks destined to be against Pegasus in a meeting between second and third in the women’s EY Hockey League.
Barring a first defeat since September, UCD will take first place on Saturday when they travel to face Ards, formally seeing off Quins’ challenge.
Stephen Dale’s charges have a double weekend with Loreto visiting Farmer’s Cross on Saturday and relegation-threatened Trinity arriving on Sunday.
It will be Trinity’s second game of the weekend, with their first one certainly their bigger focus. If the students draw or better against Hermes-Monkstown on Saturday, they will relegate last year’s national finalists, who have endured a rough season.
On the men’s side, the battle for the fourth Champions Trophy place is the main issue at the top with Glenanne, Three Rock, and Lisnagarvey all confirmed with games to spare.
Monkstown — who lost 1-0 on Tuesday to Three Rock — Pembroke, and Banbridge are covered by three points. All three have road trips of varying degrees of difficulty, with Monkstown meeting champions Glenanne while Pembroke meet bottom side Railway Union.
Cork C of I will be keeping an ear out for Banbridge’s result at Cookstown. The Tyrone side could potentially drag them back into a fight to avoid the relegation play-off spot.
Currently, C of I have a five-point buffer but their 2-1 loss to Cookstown last Sunday means they are not quite of the woods yet.
Elsewhere, it was confirmed the Mardyke Arena will host a three-match series between the Irish women and Japan in July. It continues Hockey Ireland’s increased emphasis on bringing international fixtures around the country following a two-game pre-Olympic series against the Dutch men and the European Under-18 championships.
Domestically, the second tier Munster Cup finals pit Ashton against Limerick in the men’s McLean Cup decider while Cork C of I’s women will look to unseat Division 2 league winners Harlequins in their cup decider at Garryduff.
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