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Pegasus know play-offs spot is on a knife edge

By John Flack

Pegasus need to beat Loreto in Dublin on Saturday if they are to keep alive their ambition of securing a place in the end-of-season EY Irish Hockey League play-offs.

A 2-1 defeat by Cork Harlequins at the weekend has left Ali McNeill's team five points behind the Dublin side, who currently occupy fourth place in the table.

With Monkstown, UCD and Cork looking certain to hold down a berth in the top three - there's a 10-point gap between them and Loreto - the crucial final play-off place is still very much up for grabs.

Pegasus desperately want to retain their place in Europe next season and the only remaining route is via the play-offs.

They also have the notional benefit of a game in hand but that is against league leaders Monkstown, so it's important they win at Loreto.

Coach McNeill cut a frustrated figure on the touchline on Saturday as she and her players felt Cork Harlequins' second goal should not have stood.

"I'm usually pretty quiet during matches but, on this occasion, I felt I had to speak out but there's nothing we can do about it now," said McNeill.

"It left us with too much to do and Michelle Harvey's goal came too late to get an equaliser."

Ards meanwhile will be hoping they don't endure a hockey hangover after their heroics in Europe as they prepare to face struggling Ulster Elks at Londonderry Park.

The North Down side finished in an unprecedented fifth place at the EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy tournament in Lithuania to preserve their second division status next year.

However, with more than half of their outdoor squad not making the trip, they should still be fresh enough to pile more misery on the Elks, who are rooted to the bottom of the table.

Belfast Harlequins, who are now six points off the automatic relegation spot following their weekend win over Pembroke, have a week off from the IHL and are next in action against Ards on Friday week.

In the Ulster Premier League, champions Lurgan make the short trip to Portadown for a derby on Friday night as they bid to get back to winning ways.

Randalstown took advantage as their 5-0 win at Banbridge saw them go top and on Saturday Harry McNeill's side should stay at the summit as they are likely to be a bit too strong for North Down.

Tonight bottom team Raphoe host Ballymoney, who are looking good for a top three league finish.

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