Ulster Shield final: Pegasus hit with injury blow ahead of bid for double joy against Harlequins
Denman Ulster Shield final
Pegasus captain Michelle Harvey has been sidelined for three months with an ankle injury and will miss Thursday's Denman Ulster Shield final clash with Belfast Harlequins at Stormont (1pm).
The former Irish international is to undergo an operation to have a plate inserted in the wound.
Harvey has been lending her support to the team and head coach Greg Thompson since sustaining the injury against Loreto a few weeks ago and will be undertaking a similar role in the Boxing Day showpiece.
It's a repeat of last year's final, which Pegasus won after a penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw.
The holders go into the game as warm favourites as they are top of the EY Irish Hockey League table while Harlequins are anchored to the bottom.
Pegasus won the corresponding league game 4-2 at Deramore just 10 days ago but neither team will be reading too much into that.
"The whole squad is looking forward to the final and it's a very different group from last year and a great opportunity for the players to showcase our youth, experience and quality," said Harvey.
"We are taking each match in the cups and leagues as they come, but it is always a tough game against our local rivals.
"It's all to play for on the day and form usually goes out the window.
"Retaining the Shield would be massive for us as we are such a different team this year and have a lot of first-time finalists, so it would be extra special."
Harlequins captain Linzi Hamilton, unlike Harvey, has yet to be a on a winning side in a Shield final, having playing in three to date, two with Queen's and last year with Quins.
She admits there is room for improvement after her team threw away a 3-0 lead against Premier League Banbridge in the semi-final on Saturday and were pegged back to 3-2, while Pegasus were comfortable 4-0 winners over Ulster champions Lurgan earlier in the week.
Hamilton said: "We will want to emulate our first-half performance against Bann in the final. I think we can give them a tough time if we play like that, but we need to keep that consistency throughout the four quarters and not just two or three.
"I don't think the league game against Pegasus will have any bearing on the final as anything can happen in such situations.
"It's a big atmosphere and everyone is excited about the occasion, so I think we are capable of going into it and causing an upset as underdogs.
"Pegasus always have a core of really strong players and the young ones coming through add a different dynamic, so they can be a danger, and we will be looking to combat that and put pressure on them.
"For me, it would be awesome to win the Shield at the fourth time of asking and, for the club, it would be amazing to lift the trophy for the first time."
Harlequins: Marianne Fox; Kathryn Smylie, Rachael Henderson, Katie Larmour, Katherine Welshman, Jenna Watt, Natalie Barr, Lucy Geddes, Abigail Edwards, Julie Dennison, Serena Barr, Alex Kelly, Linzi Hamilton (capt), Nicola Stoddart, Emilia Cutrona, Lizzie Colvin, Bethany Barr, Rhiannon Coulter, Suzanne Taylor
Pegasus: Megan Todd; Ella Armstrong, Charlotte Beggs, Olivia Berry, Taite Doherty, Molly Dougan, Caitlyn Harvey, Katie Foster, Pam Glass, Ruth Maguire (capt), Kerri McDonald, Shirley McCay, Niamh McIvor, Lucy McKee, Ellie Montgomery, Ellie Smyth, Alex Speers, Jenna Reid.
Umpires: Christine Reid, Linda Johnston