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Elks in dark over play-off opponents


Scouting mission: Coach Ricky Lee has watched potential rivals

Scouting mission: Coach Ricky Lee has watched potential rivals

Rowland White/PressEye

Scouting mission: Coach Ricky Lee has watched potential rivals

The Ulster Elks will have to win two play-off matches if they are to qualify for next year's Irish Hockey League after a poor run of form saw them finish in fifth place in the Ulster Premier League.

But the Jordanstown club are still in the dark as to who might form the opposition.

It's understood that one side from Connacht, two from Munster and one from Leinster will be in the mix with a semi-final and final to come in the wild card play-offs next month.

But it's likely that the Elks will probably have to beat Old Alex if they are to progress after the Dubliners finished fifth in the Leinster League.

Last season the Ulster team went down 5-0 in a one-off play-off match against Alex and therefore missed out on the IHL.

"At the moment we aren't sure who we will play but from what I hear the draw will be made later this month," said Elks coach Ricky Lee.

"I believe it's between Catholic Institute, UCC and Cork Harlequins in Munster as to who goes through to the wild card series but I am not sure about who will be representing Connacht.

"It's not ideal as we haven't played a game for a couple of weeks now and warm-up opposition will be hard to come by.

"We have asked Lisnagarvey and Cookstown for games as they are still involved in a promotion-relegation play off in Ulster."

The Elks finished their programme a fortnight ago when they lost 3-1 to Ards but at least they had some competitive match practice when they drew 1-1 with a touring American College team last week.

Realistically they will probably have to reverse the outcome of last year's game with Old Alex if they are to progress to the IHL for the first time.

The Dublin side, like this time last season, have the notional advantage of taking part in the current All-Ireland campaign and so will have more recent competitive experience.

But Lee, at least, has had the chance to watch the Leinster team.

"I watched them beat Ballymoney 5-1 on Saturday and they looked impressive so, if we have to play them at some stage, as seems likely, it is going to be a difficult game for us," he added.

Belfast Telegraph