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Randalstown out to Peg back champions as league begins

By John Flack

Published 03/10/2007

Randalstown are hoping to mount a serious challenge to Pegasus this season having got the Winemark Ulster Shield campaign safely and successfully out of the way.

The holders booked their place in the semi finals on Saturday after a decisive 4-0 win over Ballymena at Antrim Forum.

The newly named Premier League programme gets under way at the weekend and the Co. Antrim girls start with a home tie against Victorians.

They have now got Ireland star Claire Parkhill back on board after a spell with top English outfit Bowden Hightown although she will remain based in England due to work commitments.

Her international colleagues are also back on board after sitting out the action during the Shield campaign so 'Town will be at full strength for the weekend opener.

However, they realise that the games with Pegasus will probably be the deciding contests during the course of the campaign.

The famous Belfast side are bidding for their 11th consecutive title and while the name of the competition is changed the fact that Pegasus will start favourites is nothing new.

However Randalstown will be going all out to spoil the script as they bid to topple the All-Ireland champions.

"It's certainly everything to play for and we are looking forward to the league," says team captain Emma Teggarty.

"It's great to have Claire back and she has decided to play for us whenever possible and take time out from her club in England.

"She will still be playing for Ireland obviously, so we won't always have her available for selection. But she will come back as often as possible to play for.

"We will also have our other internationals, Emma Clarke and Shirley McCay, in the squad for Saturday's game so we are really looking forward to it."

Belfast Harlequins were narrowly pipped by Randalstown as they attempted to reach the semi finals of the Shield but, they too, have sent out a message that they mean business this season.

They have benefited from the capture of Sarah Wilkinson, who has joined from Pegasus after a year out of the game.

On Saturday the Ulster striker hit four of the goals in Harlequins' superb 10-2 win over Priorians and she will be one player that the opposition will have to keep a close eye on.

On Saturday Harlequins open their campaign with a home game against top flight newcomers Lurgan.

In the other ties Ballymena entertain Knock while last season's top three finishers Ballymoney entertain Ards in possibly the match of the day.

Pegasus open their defence of the title with an away trip to Armagh while in Senior League One early favourites Lisnagarvey start with an away clash against newcomers Greenisland.

Fixtures: Premier League: Ballymena v Knock (2.30pm), Ballymoney v Ards (2.30pm), Harlequins v Lurgan (2.30pm), Randalstown v Victorians (2.30pm) Armagh v Pegasus (4pm)

Senior One: Ballyclare v North Down (2.30pm), Coleraine v Omagh (1pm), Greenisland v Lisnagarvey (2.30pm), Civil Service v Priorians (2.30pm), Portadown v Cookstown (2.30pm).

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