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Shirley McCay and Jonathan Bell to return to club action for crucial Irish Hockey League clashes



Shirley McCay

Shirley McCay

Shirley McCay

Shirley McCay will play through the pain barrier tomorrow when Pegasus bid to get their EY Irish Hockey League title ambitions back on track in Dublin against Pembroke Wanderers.

Ireland's most-capped sportswoman broke two toes when she was struck on the foot in the 2-1 win over Belfast Harlequins just over a fortnight ago.

Her injury ruled her out of the next two matches which resulted in a 2-1 home defeat to now leaders Old Alexandra and a 4-2 loss to Catholic Institute in Limerick last weekend.

But the 31-year-old has passed herself fit for tomorrow's game against Pembroke, who defeated Muckross 3-1 in a Dublin derby on Wednesday night.

Pegasus surrendered top spot after losing to Catholic Institute for the first time in the Munster club's 110-year history, but they were left trailing Old Alex only on goal difference.

They travelled to Limerick with just 12 players due to a number of absentees but will be back to somewhere approaching full strength for tomorrow's game, which promises to be a close contest.

Indeed, the corresponding game in Belfast ended 4-3 in Pegasus' favour but only after they came back from 3-0 down to win, thanks to a last-second goal from McCay.

Belfast Harlequins, meanwhile, face Railway Union at Deramore in a match which could go a long way in deciding which of the two teams is automatically relegated.

Quins have yet to register a win in 11 outings and currently trail fellow strugglers Railway by five points, although the Leinster side have two games in hand.

A draw would suit Railway, but a first win of the IHL season is vital for Phil Mills' team, who are again likely to be without Irish international Bethany Barr, who is recovering from a long-term back injury.

Lisnagarvey's men will welcome back Ireland captain Jonny Bell for the top-of-the-table clash with Monkstown in Dublin as he has recovered from the calf injury which kept him out of the 5-2 victory at Pembroke a fortnight ago.

Garvey are eight points clear of Monkstown going into the clash but have played a game more.

Bell, who sat out much of the corresponding game in Hillsborough - which Garvey won 2-1 - due to his calf injury, expects another tough battle tomorrow after what was a tight contest three weeks ago.

He said: "Away to Monkstown is always a tricky fixture and they have a very good penalty corner attack, along with a top goalkeeper in Davy Fitzgerald, so they are always tough to beat.

"But we have enough firepower and have had a few good results down there over the past few seasons to get another positive outcome this week."

Banbridge, meanwhile, will be confident of staying in the play-off places with a home win over YMCA having beaten them 7-0 in Dublin a few weeks ago, while basement side Annadale host Pembroke.

Fixtures: EY IHL: Men: Annadale v Pembroke (4pm); Banbridge v YMCA (2.45pm); Corinthians v Three Rock; Monkstown v Lisnagarvey (4.15pm); UCD v Glenanne. Women: Belfast Harlequins v Railway Union (2.30pm); Loreto v Catholic Institute; Old Alex v Cork Harlequins; Pembroke v Pegasus (2.30pm).

Belfast Telegraph