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Lingus still pursuing Patriots

WITH just three rounds of matches to play in volleyball's Premier 32 league, Ballymun Patriots top the men's league, but Aer Lingus still look threatening.

Although they currently lie in third place behind the Ulster Elks, they have a game in hand and, like the Patriots, have lost only two matches this season.

Aer Lingus lost to the Elks in a close three-setter before Christmas and travel to Jordanstown for the return engagement this weekend, knowing they must win. The Patriots have an easier draw against UCD, a team just one place off the bottom of the table.

Still, UCD produced the shock of the Association Cup quarter-finals last weekend, when they beat former champions the Jets and they will be in confident form.

In the women's league, last year's Division 1 champions Tallaght Rockets are battling it out with DVC for the runners-up spot behind Aer Lingus, who are unbeaten so far this season and on course to make it a league and cup double for a second year.

Tallaght face Aer Lingus this weekend and then play Newbridge away next Wednesday.

DVC play Newbridge on Sunday.

Looking likely to replace Trinity in the top division next season are Naas Cobras, unbeaten so far this campaign.

Last weekend, Naas beat many times former champions UCD in the women's Association Cup quarter-finals. They will now face Aer Lingus in the semi-finals.

In the other semi-final, Tallaght Rockets play Newbridge.

In the men's Association Cup, UCD's shock victory over the Jets earns them a semi-final showdown with the Ballymun Patriots. Defending champions Aer Lingus are still on for the double after beating DVC.

They will play CBphoto Thunder in the semi-finals. All semi-finals will take place in DCU on March 27.

At international level, with the countdown continuing to the European Small Nations Championships qualifiers next June, the men's squad have launched a clever raffle to find themselves a title sponsor. For just €5, you could win exclusive rights to a kit of the Irish men's volleyball team, plus your own personalised jersey.

Tickets cost €5, or €20 for five, and can be bought either at the upcoming matches against Northern Ireland on the weekend of March 13/14 or through PayPal. Information from Irish volleyball website or email seniormen@volleyballireland.com.