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Rainey rules out Pegasus Europe bid

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 Transition phase: Michelle Rainey had two key players retire

Transition phase: Michelle Rainey had two key players retire

Transition phase: Michelle Rainey had two key players retire

PEGASUS have set themselves a modest target by their own high standards going into this year's Irish Hockey League, which starts when they host Old Alex at Upper Malone on Saturday.

Only two years ago, Pegasus won an IHL and Irish Senior Cup double but due to a number of personnel changes, they do not envisage a repeat of their league triumph this season.

The winners will earn a place in Europe next season and that remains the only route available to Pegasus following an early exit to Glenanne in the Cup.

"To be honest I can't see us winning the IHL and our aim is to get out of the group phase and reach the semi-finals and finals weekend," said coach Michelle Rainey.

"If we can do that you never know what might happen in one or two one-off games but, put it this way, I don't think we would be the favourites."

Pegasus, of course, have lost two of the greatest ever players in the shape of Arlene Boyles and Claire McMahon to retirement and have introduced some younger blood to replace them.

The likes of schoolgirl trio of Hannah Grieve, Rhianna Campbell and Robyn Chambers were signed from Lurgan, Randalstown and Ballymoney respectively.

All three have established themselves as first team squad regulars as part of a consolidation process that the club is undergoing.

"It's the first year of what we see as a three year plan and after that space of time then we might be in a position to challenge for major honours," Rainey added.

"We are also investing heavily in our seconds, whom we see as an important part of the rebuilding process."

Pegasus are still in contention for the Premier League title but will be taking a break from that challenge on Saturday when they face the Dublin side.

"Old Alex will be very tough as they have proved when we have played them in the past but we are looking forward to the game," the Pegasus coach continued.

"I was very pleased with the way we passed the ball in Saturday's win over Harlequins, particularly in the first half before we rotated some of the players. So we are certainly moving in the right direction and we are looking forward to the rest of the season."

Belfast Telegraph