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Ards await Lynsey’s return to bolster defence

By John Flack

Lynsey Mallon will be on the comeback trail very soon following maternity leave — and that’s good news for Ards, who have shipped 13 goals in their opening three EY Irish Hockey League games.

After narrowly avoiding a relegation play-off last season by finishing eighth in the inaugural 10-team national league, they went down 4-0 to UCD, 5-2 to Hermes-Monkstown and then fell to a 4-1 loss to Loreto in Dublin at the weekend.

They host Railway Union this Saturday, but Mallon is unlikely to play as she is still recovering from a blow to the head sustained in training.

When she does return, however, it should bolster the defence which has already lost former captain Naomi Grundie, who is expecting a baby, while ex-Ireland midfielder Emma Reid is also on maternity leave.

As well as losing two of their most accomplished players on a long-term basis, Ards have also been without another one in the shape of Kerry Harvey, who is suffering from an ankle injury and is going to miss the Railway match.

Grundie’s successor Caroline Adams isn’t pressing any panic buttons just yet, despite the losing start to the new campaign, and she is looking forward to Saturday’s showdown.

“Losing Emma and Naomi are obviously huge blows as both have such experience and talent and brought a lot to the team, but we are still optimistic as we know we had a tough start against teams that will be fighting it out at the top of the table,” said the Ards captain.

“Last season Pegasus had a poor start and still managed to finish second, so it shows that all is not lost as a couple of results our way can change things.

“Saturday’s game is one we are looking forward to and it will be good to get back on our home turf after two games in Dublin.”

Pegasus surrendered their 100% record at the weekend when they lost 1-0 to Hermes-Monkstown and they face a long and arduous trip to Munster to face Cork Harlequins, who have recruited well.

Quins have signed Ireland players Naomi Carroll and Rebecca Barry from Hermes and Ulster Elks respectively and have several other current internationals in their squad, plus German Olympian Lina Geyer.

The Ulster Elks are also on the road as they prepare to face UCD in Dublin.

Newly-promoted Belfast Harlequins are still without a point, as are Saturday’s opponents Pembroke, adding significance to the  meeting at Deramore.

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