Avoca and Trinity raise curtain on slimline division two

The withdrawals of Skerries and Naas, combined with Kilkenny’s decision to drop their first side down to division four leaves division two with a bare look for the opening weekend of the season.

The six remaining teams will play each other three times with the side due to have a bye according to the ‘Blue books’ fixture list replacing Skerries.

Quite what to make of the future of the division is unclear though the trend is very worrying. In the early 1990s, Leinster hockey had three divisions of ten teams devoted solely to first teams.

Many of those clubs have since fallen by the wayside and it is difficult to see division two remaining in its current format in 2010/11 unless the current trend is reversed.

As for this weekend’s games, Dublin Uni’s game with Avoca looks the pick of the three with both giving league debuts to a number of new faces.

Trinity have Wesley senior cup winning skipper Kristian Fitzgerald as an option between the posts while Steven Roberts moves from Three Rock, Niall Noonan from YMCA and Freddie Hill from Pembroke.

Munster U-18 Roger Clarke has also signed up while the potential of a number of English arrivals remains to be seen but initial signs are Sean Flynn, a West of England representative, could be handy. Peter Hyde returns after stints with Suttonians and Clontarf.

On the way out are key club men Barry Glavey and Ben Hewitt while Brian Cleere looks set to continue his studies beyond College Park. Aengus Stanley and Jonny Orr could return in the New Year.

Avoca, meanwhile, have swooped for Bray trio Jamie Crawford, Greg Keeley and Rob Pearson in their bid to return back to division one though Karl Chapple has moved to Railway Union.

Weston look to be the other side in contention for promotion under the coaching of Alan Browne. The talismanic midfielder has got his side playing high-tempo stuff and the additions of Vikram Singh and Brian Scully are notable ones.

A Bray side short of the afore-mentioned trio, Cliff Bailey and Andy Macken combined with Ian Murphy returning to New Zealand and James Hardiman to Australia means last season’s runners-up have a tough season of rebuilding ahead of them.

Suttonians, under Frank Byrne, have added Alan Crawford (Fingal) and Simon Walsh (Pembroke) to their squad and are close to full strength for Stephen McGrath’s Navan Badger’s visit on Saturday.

Richie Wormald is the only player missing having recently got engaged but will return next week.

Men’s Division Two Saturday fixtures: Suttonians vs Navan, Sutton Park; Dublin University vs Avoca, 1pm, Santry Avenue; Weston vs Bray 2pm, Griffeen Valley Park

Men's Leinster Senior Div 2