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European indoor trip is just the tonic for Alana

By John Flack

Royal School Armagh's Alana Doyle hopes to put the disappointment of losing to Wallace High in last week's Belfast Telegraph Senior Cup semi-final behind her when she switches to indoor action with Ards at the EuroHockey Club Trophy series in Lithuania over the weekend.

Alana, who will be making her European debut in the six-a-side game, is determined to make the most of the opportunity as six times Irish champions Ards come up against teams from the host country, Ukraine, England, Scotland, France and Sweden.

With one team having pulled out, the tournament is being staged on a round-robin format with two games a day and only the side that finishes bottom being relegated.

But It will be a tough ask for Ards to stay in what is the second-tier of European indoor hockey as they are competing against clubs who play this brand of hockey in a league format for several winter months.

"I am really looking forward to the opportunity to playing in the series but I'm aware that the indoor game is very strong in other European countries," said Alana, who is head girl at the Royal School and a member of the Irish U21 outdoor training panel.

"Obviously in countries with more severe winter weather, the onus is on the indoor game during these months and their structures are geared towards a more prolonged indoor campaign.

"Therefore the first objective is to maintain Ards' position in this division and, beyond that, we will be aiming to win as many matches as possible."

At home, the big game in the EY Irish Hockey League is the meeting of Belfast Harlequins and Pembroke in Dublin.

Quins are two points better off than their opponents at the wrong end of the table after their 3-2 win over basement side Ulster Elks on Saturday.

"It was an important win for us after losing 6-0 to Railway Union the previous weekend," explained Harlequins captain Claire Weir.

"We beat Pembroke 2-0 earlier in the season but it took two late goals to get the win and they have improved since then, so we are expecting a tough match."

Pegasus have a swift chance of avenging Sunday's Irish Senior Cup defeat by Cork Harlequins in the rematch at The Dub while Ulster Elks host leaders UCD.

In the Ulster Premier League, champions and current leaders Lurgan travel to Queen's while second placed Randalstown are away to Banbridge.

Belfast Telegraph

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