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Ulster's indoor hockey scene is lagging behind: Grundie


In vain: Ards ace Amy Benson hit a consolation in the semi

In vain: Ards ace Amy Benson hit a consolation in the semi

�INPHO/Tommy Grealy

In vain: Ards ace Amy Benson hit a consolation in the semi

Ireland's Ulster-based indoor internationals came crashing down to earth with a bump on their return to club action yesterday, a week after their heroics with their country.

After helping Ireland to promotion from the third division of the European Championship in Bratislava, Ards pair Caroline Adams and Amy Benson were powerless to prevent the Ulster champions from missing out on the All-Ireland title in Galway.

Having won the national crown seven times in a row until relinquishing it last year, Ards lost 3-1 to Muckross in the semi-finals, with Benson scoring a late consolation.

Ards went on to finish third after beating Galway 5-2, with goals from Benson (2), Adams, Harriet Platt and Ellen Robinson.

Afterwards, Ards star Naomi Grundie lamented that, in her view, the indoor club game in Ulster has taken a backward step, allowing Leinster teams to prosper.

This year's local Championship almost bit the dust and only four teams took part in a one-day event, while there is a full-blown Leinster League with games spread over several weeks.

However, it's understood that moves are afoot to introduce an expanded indoor Ulster event next season.

Grundie said: "It is very difficult to develop a squad when you don't have competitions in your own province to develop players.

"It is really clear that having an indoor league has developed the Leinster players massively and Ulster indoor hockey is being left behind."

In the EY Irish Hockey League, Pegasus were knocked off top spot after dropping two points to Muckross in a 1-1 draw in Dublin.

Loreto defeated Belfast Harlequins 3-1 to move to the top of the table on goal difference and leave Phil Mills' team still without a win at the bottom of the standings.

Alex Speers hammered in a penalty corner to give Pegasus a second-half lead but Muckross levelled through Anna O'Flanagan seven minutes later.

At Beaufort, Loreto led 2-0 at the break and then Julie Dennison scored to give Quins some hope but the Leinster side wrapped it up with a third shortly afterwards.

In the Ulster Premier League, Ballymoney and Ulster Elks kept their title aspirations alive with 4-0 and 3-0 wins over Randalstown and Banbridge respectively.

Results: EYIHL: Cork Harlequins 2 Railway Union 1; Loreto 3 Belfast Harlequins 1; Muckross 1 Pegasus 1; Old Alex 2 Pembroke 1; UCD 2 Catholic Institute 1. IHL 2: Queen's 2 Ards 2; NUIG 2 Lurgan 9. Ulster Premier: Ballymoney 4 Randalstown 0; Banbridge 0 Ulster Elks 3; Lisnagarvey 11 Rainey 0; Mossley 0 Raphoe 2. Senior One: CI 1 North Down 0; Club KV 2 Omagh 3; Dromore 1 Coleraine 1; Priorians 2 Ballymena 2; Portadown 0 Armagh 7. Irish Indoor Championship: Semi-final: Ards 1 Muckross 3. Third/fourth lay-off: Ards 5 Galway 2. Final: Railway Union 2 Muckross 0.

Belfast Telegraph