It’s often said that there’s no substitute for playing and Vanessa Beattie (formerly Surgeoner) is living proof of the old adage, having been forced to take a year out as she bids to recover from injury and line out for Pegasus once again.
In the meantime, the 26-year-old striker is keeping herself busy with her duties as team manager and she’s had a good view of things from the dug-out as Pegasus attempt to make it three wins from three in the EYHL this weekend
On Saturday, they travel to Londonderry Park to take on an Ards side that has been finding life without Chloe Brown tough in Irish hockey’s top-flight.
Brown now plays her hockey in the English Premier League with Sussex side East Grinstead and, as Ards’ perennial leading goal scorer in her time with the north Down outfit, she has been hard to replace.
Chloe’s old club opened with a scoreless draw against Muckross and then were unfortunate to concede a late goal to UCD, who returned to Dublin with all three points following a hard earned 1-0 victory.
“Obviously, we have played Pegasus many times in the past and we know a lot about how they play and who their key players are and will be looking to capitalise on this as we aim to get a positive result on Saturday,” said Ards co-captain Naomi McKnight.
While Ards have yet to score in their two matches, Pegasus, in contrast, have found their goal scoring touch, having hit seven in two starts as they followed up an opening 3-2 win over UCD with a 4-2 victory at Pembroke.
Their manager believes this could be the year Pegasus cast of the bridesmaid’s role, having lost to UCD in the Irish Cup final last season and exited the Champions Trophy after a semi-final loss on penalties to Cork Harlequins.
“I think this year will be a great one for Pegasus. We have started the league well with two strong performances and I think that the squad of players will certainly have a great season, and I, for one, hope there will be a few trophies back in the cabinet by the end of it,” said Vanessa.
Elsewhere on Saturday, undefeated Belfast Harlequins take on their Cork namesakes at Deramore, hoping to inflict a third successive defeat of the season on the Munster side, who have lost Ireland World Cup star Roisin Upton to Catholic Institute.
The Limerick side host Ulster champions Lurgan in IHL 2 while Queen’s also travel to Munster, to face UCC and locally, Ulster Premier leaders Ballymoney are away to Ulster Elks, who are aiming to bounce back from an opening loss to Lisnagarvey.
There’s one game in the local top flight on Friday night as Randalstown host a Garvey side that is fresh from a big win over CI in the Irish Hockey Trophy but Town are likely to provide a stiffer test.
Elsewhere, Ballymena travel to Dungannon while Banbridge and Mossley, who had good away wins on the all-Ireland stage last week, clash head on at Havelock Park.
The Bann game will be followed by the men’s EYHL game between Mark Tumilty’s side and newly-promoted Dublin YMCA in an attractive double header.
Banbridge will be aiming to bounce back from their disappointing 5-4 loss to Lisnagarvey last week and will be confident of doing so as they bid for a third straight home win.
Garvey have a stern test away to Champions Trophy holders Three Rock Rovers as the go in search of revenge for their semi-final defeat in the final four weekend last season.
Rovers qualified for Euro Hockey’s KO-16 last weekend after a superb series in Barcelona and Garvey will be hoping their exertions will have taken its toll.
Annadale recovered from their opening defeats to win at Pembroke last week and so will be in upbeat mood as they make the long trip to Cork C of I.
Cookstown, who have a win and a draw to their credit, start a run of three road games with a trip to Dublin to face Monkstown.
Saturday also sees the start of the men’s IHL 2 with the opening pool games with Kilkeel, Bangor and Instonians looking for winning starts, especially with home advantage.
Kilkeel take on Dubliners Corinthian, Bangor play Munster side Bandon while Inst entertain UCC as they aim to respond positively to last week’s 4-3 Irish Cup loss to another of the student sides, UCD.
There are just four Ulster Premier League games this weekend due to the IHL 2 programme with the top tie the meeting of Portadown and Queen’s, who have both made a good start.
Mossley can narrow the gap at the top if they can get a good home result against unpredictable Belfast Harlequins while North Down will be hoping to build on last week’s Irish Trophy win when they host Raphoe.