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Adams confident as Ards aim for a Euro double

By John Flack

Ards are preparing for a busy weekend which could see them qualify for one European competition and edge closer to a place in another.

They take on last season's Irish Senior Cup finalists Cork Harlequins in this season's quarter-finals at Londonderry Park on Saturday and then switch their attention to indoor action at Queen's PE Centre 24 hours later.

They continue their defence of the all-Ireland title with a semi-final against Glenanne and, should they win, will meet either Queen's or Railway Union in the final with a place in Europe the reward for the victors.

First up though is that Irish Senior Cup clash with the Munster side and with the outright winners getting a place in the end-of-season play-offs from which you can earn a place in Europe, there's clearly a big incentive.

Ards are in sixth place in the Irish Hockey League at the moment, so the odds are against them achieving a top-three slot which would also warrant a place in the play-offs, adding importance to the last-eight tie.

The Cork girls defeated Ards 3-1 in the corresponding IHL game but Ards captain Caroline Adams is quietly confident of overturning that result.

"Harlequins are a very good side but we'll take some heart from the way we finished the league game when we got a goal back and then were on top," she said. "We lost Irish international Chloe Brown early in the game with a broken ankle but she is now back and playing well, so that should also help."

Brown hit a hat-trick in Sunday's 5-4 Ulster Indoor Championship win over Queen's which clinched Ards the title for the fifth year in a row.

"We trained hard during the break from the IHL but playing indoors at the weekend will have helped our sharpness," added Adams.

"Having reached the cup final last season only to lose to Ulster Elks has whetted our appetite to go one better but we know it's going to be tough."

Pegasus also face a stern test against Loreto in Dublin, having managed only a draw against the Leinster side in the league.

Ballymoney are the only Ulster Premier League side left but they'll fancy their chances of an upset at home to Pembroke, who share bottom place in the IHL.

At domestic level, Premier champions Lurgan will have a chance to exact swift revenge for their shock weekend defeat by Lisnagarvey when the teams meet again at Comber Road while challengers Queen's and Randalstown meet at The Dub.

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