Hockey: UCC seek revenge over Waterford

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By Stephen Findlater

UCC and Waterford carry the Munster flag on the national stage this weekend in their refixed Irish Hockey Trophy quarter-final with plenty of scores to be settled.

As if to reminisce on their previous success in the competition back in 2012, the students posting a tongue-in-cheek “then and now” version of the crossbar challenge with efforts from the likes of the Gray and Catchpole brothers spraying far and wide.

They have the Mardyke-hosting rights for their date with the current champions and a psychological edge borne out of January’s 4-2 win over the Déise side in the league with Stephen Jermyn returning from injury to net a double.

“We will take positives from that win but will not be resting on our laurels,” said vice-captain Conor Beck. “We were missing a few players with it being directly after Christmas and Waterford were in the same boat.

“Both sides will realise from that league game that penalty corners will be key and with Waterford knocking us out last year with the last play, there will be plenty on the line.”

To this end, Beck cites the potential impact Simon Dring and Sam Lilburn can have on proceedings but the Déise side have their own powerhouses in Rory Isaacs and Ian Balding.

For Waterford, it was always going to be tough to replicate the incredible highs of last term with Ben Johnson, Ethan McInerney, David Gahan and Harry McCarthy all relocating to Dublin.

Nonetheless, they have firepower to cause plenty of trouble but need to tighten up at the far end with 33 goals conceded in eight league ties.

UCC’s women, meanwhile, made a big move toward retaining the Munster Division One title in midweek with a 3-2 win over Bandon at the Mardyke.

Miah Phelan Sweeney, Aoife Collins and Caoimhe Perdue — just a few days after featuring in the Ashbourne Cup final — landed the key goals to outdo efforts from Olivia Roycroft and Rachel Desmond.

The win continues their perfect record and establishes a nine-point gap at the top with four games to go.

With a trip to bottom side Limerick on Saturday, it now looks as though, realistically, only Cork C of I — with a game in hand — have an outside chance of catching them.

Following big wins in Dublin, Catholic Institute and Cork Harlequins will now look to put home advantage to good use in the EY Hockey League.

Insta host leaders Pegasus but will carry little fear for the battle having pushed them all the way in the return fixture in November, only succumbing late in the day.

Indeed, it may be a tricky tie for Pegs who have only brought small squads for their away trips.

Two of their starters — Niamh McIvor and Charlotte Beggs — have been in Lilleshall all week with the Irish Under-18s with a potential to be playing their third game in fourth days.

Cork Harlequins, meanwhile, face their namesakes from Belfast who are seeking their first win of the campaign.

In the Irish Hockey Challenge, Cork Wanderers host Greenfields on Saturday in their refixed quarter-final, with Blackrock waiting to host the semi-final.

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