The Ulster Elks women’s hockey team will compete this weekend to represent Ireland in the European Indoor Championships next year.
The Elks, based at the University of Ulster's Jordanstown campus, will play two matches in the Irish Indoor Championship finals weekend, which begins on Saturday.
The team won the Ulster stage of the tournament defeating current Irish Indoor Champions, Armagh 3 – 1, in the qualifier before Christmas hosted by Queen’s.
The winners of the Indoor Championships this weekend will represent Ireland in the European competition the following year.
As last year’s winners, Armagh, will be flying out to Prague next month to play for the European trophy.
The Ulster Elks face previous champions Railway Union who topped their group in Leinster and Glenanne who finished second in the other Leinster group.
Both games are expected to be challenging and only two of these three teams will make it through to the semi final matches where they will face either Ads (Ulster), Old Alex (Leinster), Hermes (Leinster) or Greenfields (Connacht), who are competing in the other finals weekend group.
The first part of the finals take place in Gormanstown, Co. Meath, while the semi-final and final matches will take place on Sunday at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght.
Coach Ricky Lee said: “International Sports Scholars for Hockey, Henrike Tunsch and Sarah MacAulay have certainly made an impact as both have a great deal of experience in the indoor version of the game from their home countries Germany and Canada respectively.
“In addition, home-grown students such as Rachel King, Kirstie Lammey and Danielle Wilson have also been regular fixtures in the starting line up for the Elks squad.
"The indoor game is a faster, tighter version of the outdoor game, and so we had started indoor training over the past few seasons at Jordanstown in order to develop and hone our skills.
“We decided to enter the Irish Indoor Championships basically to give a bit more purpose to our training and for a bit of a break from the norm. However, now that we won the Ulster stage of the tournament and have qualified for the finals we will be aiming to go the whole hog and bring home the trophy.
"The added incentive is that the winners will represent Ireland in Europe next year, who could resist the lure of a trip away?"