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Third-placed Pegasus avoid champions in play-offs

 

By John Flack

Pegasus have clinched third place in the Irish Hockey League following a 1-1 draw with Belfast Harlequins on Saturday at Deramore and will, therefore, avoid newly crowned champions UCD in the end-of-season play-offs.

Instead, they will face Cork Harlequins in the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy in Dublin next month with UCD meeting either Railway Union or Loreto.

There's still a chance Pegasus could overhaul Cork - who were held 1-1 by Trinity yesterday after losing to Loreto on Saturday - to finish runners-up in the regulation season but, either way, the two teams will still face each other at Grange Road.

Both teams will be hoping UCD win the other semi-final because, if that's the case, then the Champions Trophy runners-up would qualify for Europe.

UCD have already clinched the first available spot which goes to the regulation season winners and, if they were to do the double, the second place in Europe would go to the team they beat in the final.

On Saturday, Ulster's Katie Mullan scored two of the goals as UCD retained the title with a thumping 7-1 win over Ards at Londonderry Park.

Ards never recovered after conceding three goals in the opening quarter of the game and Chloe Brown's reply was scant consolation as her team fell to their heaviest defeat.

Belfast Harlequins were the happier of the two teams at Deramore even though Pegasus had more reason to be elated after guaranteeing their play-off spot.

It took a late equaliser from Rachel Johnston to earn Quins a share of the spoils after Rachael McMillan had put Pegasus ahead midway through the second half.

Quins coach Davy Frazer said: "I thought we could have won the game had we made better use of our corners but we were a few players short, so it was a decent result."

The teams meet again on Wednesday night before Pegasus complete their league programme with games against Ards and Loreto on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Meanwhile, Portadown have been relegated from the Ulster Premier League after North Down displaced them at the bottom of the table following a 4-1 win over Rainey at Comber on Saturday.

The Ports were 10 seconds away from avoiding an automatic demotion when they conceded a late equaliser to Banbridge last week but it's North Down who will now face Ballymena in a promotion-relegation play-off.

EY Irish Hockey League: Sunday: Cork Harlequins 1 Trinity 1

Saturday: Ards 1 (C Brown) UCD 7 (A Russell 2, K Mullan 2, S Twomey, K Egan, L Tice); Belfast Harlequins 1 (R Johnston) Pegasus 1 (R McMillan); Cork Harlequins 3 (M Barry 2, A O'Grady) Loreto 4 (S Clarke, N Small, A Meeke, C Hamill); Railway Union 0 Pembroke 0; Trinity 0 Monkstown 3 (R Carrigan, C Quinlan, R Moore).

Ulster Premier League: Banbridge 0 Mossley 2 (Z McIlwaine, E Anderson); North Down 4 (B Brittain, E Adams 2, A Kimber) Rainey 1 (B Scott)

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