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Grundie on maternity leave as Ards face crunch clash

 

By John Flack

Ards will be without experienced defender Naomi Grundie for Saturday's win or bust EY Irish Hockey League away clash with Cork Harlequins.

Grundie has just gone on maternity leave while Ards will also be missing midfielder Ali Carson, who is injured, as they fight against automatic relegation.

To add to Ards' woes, Janice Heasley (formerly Vaughan), who came out of retirement to ease player availability issues recently, will instead be concentrating solely on her main role as coach.

With head coach Phil Mills on holiday, Heasley will step into the breach.

Realistically, the odds are stacked against Ards, who have to take all three points to have a chance of avoiding relegation.

Even that might not be enough as Muckross, who are two points ahead, can relegate Ards if the Dublin side were to defeat UCD in their final game on Saturday.

UCD, having played four games in as many days in Europe over the Easter holiday weekend, may not be in the best of shape whereas Ards' opponents need a win to have a chance of pipping Pembroke to the play-offs.

There is little at stake at Deramore where champions Pegasus take on Belfast Harlequins, who cannot finish higher than eighth.

Queen's are involved in the promotion play-offs for next season's IHL and face Monkstown in the semi-finals with Catholic Institute taking on Trinity in the other tie in Dublin on Saturday.

The overall winners on Sunday will go up and the losing finalists will face either Muckross or Ards in a play-off on May 5 at Banbaridge to determine the other promotion place.

Queen's coach Simon Bell said: "The girls are really looking forward to the Monkstown game and the chance to test themselves against a former EYHL side."

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