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Ards have big chance to end their relegation fears

By John Flack

Ards will have two chances over the weekend to secure their EY Irish Hockey League status for next season - and they'll be hoping for a favour from their arch rivals at domestic level to boost their survival chances.

The Co Down side face Pembroke on Saturday and if they can win that and Pegasus overcome UCC in Cork on the same day, then Caroline Adams' side will be safe from the threat of a relegation play-off.

The Ulster champions hold a two-point advantage over UCC and if both they and Pegasus win on Saturday it would be the Cork students who go into the play-off with the runners-up from the provincial play-offs.

Ards came through a crucial double-header in Munster last weekend with two points from 1-1 draws against Cork Harlequins and UCC.

But if things don't go to plan on Saturday, they have a second chance on Sunday to guarantee safety as they travel to Dublin to face Railway Union.

Adams said: "We were reasonably happy to come back without defeat over the weekend and both results show our continued progress in being stronger defensively as a unit.

"Harlequins always give us a tough game and they have a really strong home record so we had to battle to get a point through Kerry Harvey's goal, although we didn't play to our best."

Pegasus have plenty at stake during their trip to Cork as a triumph would virtually secure them a place in the end-of-season Champions Trophy play-offs via a top-three finish.

After falling to a 1-0 defeat against Railway Union on Saturday, the reigning champions recovered to inflict a 1-0 defeat on UCD 24 hours later.

Ulster Elks, who lead Pegasus only on goal difference in second place in the table, have a tough encounter with newly-crowned champions Hermes on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Lurgan need four points from three matches to claim the Ulster Premier League title for the first time, starting with tonight's clash with Randalstown at Mossley.

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