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Devoted coach Johnny Caren urges Harlequins to show progress


Johnny Caren has set his stall out for a top-four finish in the women's Premier League

Johnny Caren has set his stall out for a top-four finish in the women's Premier League

Johnny Caren has set his stall out for a top-four finish in the women's Premier League

Johnny Caren says he simply loves coaching - and it's just as well when you look at his packed schedule. |He is in charge of Belfast Harlequins men's and women's Ulster Premier League teams, and helps out with the club's youth programme.

Caren is also employed by the south Belfast outfit's feeder school, Methodist College, five days a week... but it doesn't stop there.

He also coaches the Ireland men's Under-21 team and is assistant to national senior boss Craig Fulton.

Last weekend was a typically hectic one as he took in a girls' Belfast Telegraph Senior Schools' Cup game between Methody and Friends in the morning.

Then he was in the dug-out for the women's Premier League game between Quins and Lisnagarvey in Hillsborough before he headed down the A1 to supervise Harlequins men who were playing Newry and then, on Sunday, he donned his Ireland coaching hat in Dublin.

"I love it and I wouldn't have it any other way, although there can be clashes at times as you would expect," Caren admitted.

"On Saturday, for example, I missed the first 20 minutes of the men's game but I am fortunate to have assistants who look after both teams if I can't be there.

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"We normally try and juggle our home games so that one team plays on a Friday night and the other on a Saturday."

Caren has set his stall out for a top-four finish in the women's Premier League and his Quins are one of a number of teams who are in contention.

He was disappointed with Saturday's performance in the scoreless draw with Garvey and will be looking for a repeat of the display his team produced in drawing with champions Pegasus a fortnight earlier when they play Ulster Elks this weekend.

"Our work rate wasn't good enough against Garvey although having four girls involved in the Schools' Cup game, with less than 45 minutes to recover, wasn't ideal," Caren added.

"The Elks beat us 3-0 last time, but the players concerned have learned."

Elsewhere on Saturday, champions Pegasus won't be taking Randalstown lightly in view of the difficulty they had in beating the Co Antrim side in the Denman Ulster Shield semi-final when they had to rely on a last-minute winner from Suzanne Ferris.

Leaders Ards look like home bankers against struggling Portadown who shipped six goals against Queen's last Saturday.

Lurgan and Queen's would appear to be evenly matched while Lisnagarvey face an improving Ballymoney side.

ARDS Ladies' chances of retaining their All-Ireland indoor title have been boosted by the fact that their main rivals, Ulster Elks, will be without two key players.

Irish internationals Megan Frazer and Shirley McCay will sit out the tournament as coach Ricky Lee gives youth its fling.

But the Jordanstown side can call on French international Andrea Desneaux.

"Andrea's experience should be useful," said Lee. "We'll rest Megan and Shirley, who are busy with Ireland at New Year."

Galway have decided against taking part in the series scheduled for Queen's PE Centre from December 20-21 so it will be an all-Ulster line-up with the winners qualifying for Europe.

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