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Pegasus beat Quins to stay clear at top of IHL but Shield semi-finals frozen out

Alex Speers
Alex Speers

By John Flack

Yesterday's Denman Ulster Shield semi-finals fell victim to a frost-bound pitch at the Dub and now there is a race against the clock to fit the games in before the Boxing Day decider at Stormont.

The decision to call off the double-header was taken at around 10.30am, two-and-half hours before the opening match between the holders Pegasus and Lurgan with the game involving Belfast Harlequins and Banbridge scheduled to follow.

"On checking the forecast, there was a yellow warning in place and, with temperatures not to rise above one degree Celcius, there was no chance of a thaw," explained Ulster women's fixtures secretary Ann Shiels.

"We will be checking with the respective teams and umpires before rescheduling the games and they will either be played midweek separately or on Saturday or Sunday as a double-header."

Fortunately, the temperature is forecast to rise later in the week so either option would appear to be a possibility.

However, there was due to have been a break in the women's hockey programme until after Christmas, so player availability might yet be an issue.

Pegasus striker Alex Speers said: "It was unfortunate the semi-finals had to be postponed but obviously, you just can't legislate for the weather."

"We were looking forward to the game but, hopefully we will be able to put out a strong side whenever the fixture goes ahead against a good Lurgan side that has won the Ulster Premier League three seasons in a row."

Meanwhile, Pegasus defeated Belfast Harlequins 4-2 in the EY Irish Hockey League at Deramore on Saturday in what could be a dress rehearsal for the Shield final.

The result left the Belfast side five points clear at the top of the standings, their cushion increased overnight by the fact nearest rivals Pembroke fell to a 2-1 home defeat by Muckross.

However, the picture changed yesterday as Loreto closed the gap at the top to a couple of points following a 4-2 win over Catholic Institute in Limerick.

In Saturday's game, Shirley McCay scored two of the Pegasus goals and set up the other two, with all four coming from set plays.

Ireland's most-capped player fired in the opener after 10 minutes and Lucy McKee doubled the lead from a rebound six minutes later.

Ten minutes before half-time, Julie Dennison reduced the deficit with a well-taken solo effort but McCay made it 3-1 at the break froma set-piece.

Niamh McIvor made it four goals from her last four games when she deflected in McCay's corner three minutes after the restart before Jenna Watt's late consolation from yet another set-piece.

Meanwhile, it's still neck and neck at the top of the Ulster Premier after Ards and Queen's made it seven wins in a row against Dungannon and Rainey respectively.

Results: Yesterday: EYHL: Catholic Institute 2 Loreto 4; UCD 2 Old Alex 2. Saturday: Belfast Harlequins 2 (J Dennison, J Watt) Pegasus 4 (S McCay 2, L McKee, N McIvor); Catholic Institute 2 Cork Harlequins 3; Loreto 3 Railway Union 2; Pembroke 1 Muckross 2. Ulster Premier: Ards 6 (F Brown 3, Z Malseed, E Reid, A Benson) Dungannon 0; Ballymoney 3 (K Byrne, L Steen, N Parke) Ulster Elks 0; Queen's 4 (E Getty, T Hastings, E McStea 2) Rainey 0; Randalstown 1 (E McCooke) Raphoe 1 (S Barnett). Senior One: Club KV 3 (C Houston 2, J Doak) North Down 2 (A Kimber, L Brown); Dromore 0 CI 1 (A Irwin); Omagh 1 (C Shortt) Armagh 2 (J Stevenson 2); Priorians 2 (E Allen 2) Portadown 3 (E Black, S Livingstone, K Pringle).

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