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Helen flies in to help Quins out of relegation danger

 

By John Flack

Belfast Harlequins are flying back Helen Stevenson from England for Saturday's crucial EY Irish Hockey League game with Loreto at Deramore to replace unavailable keeper Jade Lamont.

And the former Irish U21 player is hoping to draw inspiration from Great Britain's Olympic heroine Maddie Hinch during the game with the Dublin side.

Manchester-based Stevenson (27) received a tweet of encouragement from her idol after coming out of retirement to play for Quins on a couple of previous occasions this season.

They will need a point against Loreto unless Ulster Elks, who have already been relegated, can avoid defeat at Pembroke.

A two goal win for Pembroke and defeat for Quins would leave them trailing on goal difference and facing a relegation play-off.

Work commitments had forced Stevenson to hang up her stick three years ago.

"I was a bit nervous about my comeback and a friend decided to give a shout-out to Maddie and, to my surprise, she replied and wished me luck," said Helen.

Quins captain Claire Weir paid tribute to Stevenson, who will be playing only her third game after that lengthy lay-off.

"It's great to have such a talented keeper to call upon when we need her," she said. "We accept we will need to take something from the game to be safe."

Meanwhile, this weekend also sees the first phase of the provincial play-offs which determines who earns promotion to the IHL and who faces Quins or Pembroke for the last available spot.

Ballymoney and Queen's take part in the round robin event in Dublin along with Cork C of I, Muckross and Old Alex.

Money will be without Bridget Cleland due to family commitments and Ruth Sutherland who doesn't play on Sundays because of her religious beliefs.

 

WOMEN’S SENIOR FIXTURES

TONIGHT: President’s Cup: Mossley v Dungannon (8.15pm)

TOMORROW: Premier: Banbridge v Lisnagarvey (8pm)

SATURDAY: IHL (2.30pm): Ards v Pegasus; Belfast H’quins v Loreto; Monkstown v UCD (1.50pm); Pembroke v Ulster Elks; Railway v Cork H’quins

Play-offs 1st round (Monkstown): Queen’s v Ballymoney (11am); Muckross v Queen’s (3.30pm); Old Alex v Ballymoney (5pm)

Senior 1: Rainey v Mossley (2.30pm)

SUNDAY: Play-offs 1st round: C of I v Queen’s (10am); Muckross v Ballymoney (11.30pm); Old Alex v Queen’s (1pm); C of I v Ballymoney (2.30pm)

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