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Lurgan and Harlequins to meet in IHL play-off


By John Flack

Lurgan had to settle for the runners-up spot in yesterday's EYHL promotion play-off series in Dublin and will now face Belfast Harlequins next Sunday to determine which of the two Ulster sides joins Ards and Pegasus in the national league next season.

Robbie McMinn's side went into day two of the round robin tournament in pole position, having won both their matches on Saturday.

But things didn't quite go according to plan as they opened with a 1-1 draw against UCC yesterday and were then had to settle for the same result against Old Alex.

That left their hopes of holding down the one automatic promotion place hanging in the balance going into the final game between Leinster rivals Trinity and Alex.

Lurgan, who had already guaranteed themselves a second bite at the cherry against Harlequins, needed either a draw or a narrow Alex victory to secure top spot and avoid the do-or-die clash with their Ulster rivals.

However, Trinity defeated their local rivals 2-0 with a goal in each half to clinch their place at the top table and leave Lurgan sweating on next week's play-off outcome in Dublin.

In the opening game of the day against UCC yesterday, Carly Johnston put Lurgan ahead in the 23rd minute when she scrambled the ball home from close range after good build-up play from Chloe McCann and Lauren Wright.

However, the Munster champions rallied after the break and were rewarded when Claire O'Sullivan netted the equaliser 10 minutes after the restart and Lurgan were unable to respond.

That piled the pressure on going into the game with Old Alex and it didn't look good when Sylva O'Mahoney put the Leinster side ahead from a first half penalty corner.

Defeat would have ended Lurgan's chances of even securing second place but Johnston came to the rescue when she converted a penalty stroke for what proved to be a crucial equaliser nine minutes into the second half.

On Saturday, a superb first half hat-trick from Sarah McClure put the Ulster champions into a 3-0 interval lead against Trinity, who hit back with two unanswered goals after the break through Ailish Long and Louise McCollum.

Earlier in the day, a brace from McCann on either side of Tara McIlwaine's goal sealed Lurgan a 3-0 win over Connacht side Greenfields.

EYHL promotion play-offs: Sunday: Lurgan 1 (Johnston) UCC 1; Trinity 3 Greenfields 0; Lurgan 1 (Johnston) Old Alex 1; UCC 3 Greenfields 1; Trinity 2 Old Alex 0; Saturday: Trinity 1 UCC 0; Lurgan 3 (McCann 2, McIlwaine) Greenfields 0; Old Alex 0 UCC 0; Lurgan 3 (McClure 3) Trinity 2; Old Alex 2 Greenfields 0.

Final placings: 1 Trinity 9pts; 2 Lurgan 8; 3 UCC 5; 4 Old Alex 5; 5 Greenfields 0.

Belfast Telegraph


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