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Ards will beat drop, vows Adams


No fear: Caroline Adams believes Ards can climb table

No fear: Caroline Adams believes Ards can climb table

No fear: Caroline Adams believes Ards can climb table

The prospect of being relegated from the EY Irish Hockey League in its inaugural season as a 10-team event hasn't entered the consciousness of Ulster champions Ards as the competition resumes after a six-week break.

Ards currently lie just one point off the drop zone with only UCC and Greenfields below them as they prepare for a tough contest against Pegasus at Upper Malone on Saturday.

The bottom team in the IHL will go down automatically and Greenfields, who have still to pick up a point, look doomed as they are six points behind UCC.

The side that finishes in penultimate place will face a win-or-bust play-off with the runners-up of the IHL II competition, for the leading teams in the domestic leagues, to be staged at the tail end of the season.

However, the latter scenario is unthinkable as far as Ards are concerned as they bid to take a leaf out of Pegasus' book by recapturing the form of which they believe they are capable.

Pegasus started badly but have now shot up the table into the play-off zone.

Ards captain Caroline Adams said: "Of course we are disappointed with our position but it is very close and a couple of wins and other results going our way can change a lot of things.

"We are all looking forward to getting back playing again and the fact that it is an Ulster derby makes Saturday's match even more exciting.

"We have no fears of relegation and are strong enough and have the belief to perform very well until the end of the season.

"In such a competitive league there are such fine margins and unfortunately we have been on the wrong side of a few."

All the teams concerned have had a long break from IHL action in recent weeks, although sides from the other provinces have had the chance to play in their domestic competitions.

Ards, Pegasus and the Ulster Elks, in contrast, were not permitted to take part in the Denman Ulster Shield, which they had been informed of before taking up their invitations to play in the IHL - something Adams would like to see changed.

"I hope there will be a rethink. Pegasus, Elks and ourselves would love to still be facing fellow Ulster teams," she added.

Meanwhile, Ulster Elks go to Pembroke and are hoping Shirley McCay and Megan Frazer will return fully fit after picking up knocks while playing for Ireland against Spain in midweek.

At domestic level, Premier League leaders Harlequins are likely to hold top spot with a win over Portadown while main rivals Lurgan and Queen's meet.

Belfast Telegraph