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Quins' play-off boost as Katie returns for crunch derby duel

 

Welcome return: Katie Larmour is home from her studies in New York and will help Harlequins in the Irish Hockey League
Welcome return: Katie Larmour is home from her studies in New York and will help Harlequins in the Irish Hockey League

By John Flack

Katie Larmour will make a timely first appearance of the season for Belfast Harlequins in tonight's crucial EY Irish Hockey League clash with leaders Pegasus at the Dub.

Now combining a hockey scholarship with studying for a law degree at Rutgers University in New York, the Ireland Under-21 international is back home for a few days and on Monday watched her younger brother Chris help Methody lift rugby's Schools' Cup.

Larmour, who captained the school to the Belfast Telegraph Senior Cup and an All-Ireland title in 2016, will be hoping to make it a family double success tonight as Harlequins play Pegasus for the first time in the league campaign.

However, the teams met in the Denman Ulster Shield final and Quins have some unfinished business to attend to after an agonising defeat on Boxing Day.

The game finished in a 2-2 draw after Pegasus had led 2-0 at half-time, before getting the verdict after a penalty shoot-out.

Tonight, Davy Frazer's side will be hoping to build on an excellent performance in Saturday's 3-3 draw with second-placed Loreto at Deramore.

The Quins coach said: "With a bit of luck, I think we could have won the game, but the girls showed great character to come back from 3-1 down.

"We are still in with a chance of making the play-offs but we are expecting a tough game against Pegasus, although we gave them a bit of a scare in the Shield final."

Harlequins welcome back goalkeeper Marianne Fox, who has recovered from concussion, for tonight's game.

On Saturday, Harlequins travel to Ards, who have been buoyed by Saturday's 2-1 win at Pembroke which has moved them four points off the bottom.

Quins will be aiming to avenge a 3-2 Irish Senior Cup defeat in the corresponding fixture before Christmas but will have to keep a close eye on Ards striker Harriet Platt, who scored both goals in the weekend win in Dublin.

Pegasus face Cork Harlequins at the Dub in what will be a dress rehearsal for their Irish Senior Cup semi-final encounter eight days later.

Cork will be staying in Belfast overnight on Saturday as they must travel to Londonderry Park to face Ards on Sunday.

In IHL 2, Queen's will be hoping to overcome Greenfields in Galway in a bid to top their group and set up what would be a potentially less difficult semi-final, with promotion to the top flight the reward for the overall winners of the play-off series.

Before that, the students tackle champions Lurgan tonight in a crucial Ulster Premier League encounter as they attempt to get their title ambitions back on track after three winless games.

Victory for Lurgan would see them take over at the top from Ballymoney, who will be hoping to bounce back from a surprise loss to Rainey when they host Randalstown on Saturday.

There is also a vital game at the other end of the table as basement side Ballymena take on Mossley, who are third from bottom, with Lisnagarvey facing Rainey in the other match.

TONIGHT: EY Irish Hockey League: Pegasus v Belfast Harlequins (8pm).

Ulster Premier: Ballymena v Dungannon (7.45pm); Lurgan v Queen's (7.45pm).

Senior One: Portadown v North Down (8.15pm).

TOMORROW

EY Irish Hockey League: Loreto v UCD (8.15pm).

Kate Russell All-Ireland Schools' Championships (Dublin): Banbridge Academy v Kilkenny College (11am); Banbridge Academy v Crescent (3pm).

FRIDAY: Kate Russell All-Ireland Schools' Championships (Dublin): Banbridge Academy v St Andrew's (10.45am); Banbridge Academy v Colaiste Iognaid (2.30pm).

SATURDAY: EY Irish Hockey League: Ards v Belfast Harlequins (2.30pm); Pegasus v Cork Harlequins (1pm); Pembroke v UCD (12pm); Loreto v Old Alex (1pm); Railway Union v Muckross (2.30pm).

IHL 2 Pool 1: Greenfields v Queen's (2.20pm).

Pool 2: Dungannon v NUIG (1pm); Monkstown v Lurgan (1pm).

Ulster Premier: Ballymoney v Randalstown (2.30pm); Lisnagarvey v Rainey (2.30pm); Mossley v Ballymena (4pm).

Senior One: Castle v North Down; CI v Raphoe (4pm); Priorians v Omagh (2.30pm).

SUNDAY: EY Irish Hockey League: Ards v Cork Harlequins (1pm).

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