Reds look to break into top tier

With the early Neville Cup sparring providing an easing back into the season, Leinster league division one gets underway in earnest tomorrow afternoon.

Corinthian, YMCA and UCD all have significant tests of how far they can go this season as they face Fingal, Monkstown and Glenanne respectively.

The reds impressed in their two ties to date, smashing Avoca and easily dealing with an under-strength Pembroke line-up with Lucas Piccioli scoring five times since returning to Whitechurch from Three Rock.

They face the side they pipped to fifth place last time out but, with a full season of Andrew Cronje at the heart of their defence and the prospect of Darren Kimfley returning in the near future, will be aiming to push on.

Both fixtures last season ended 5-3 with a win a piece so a ding-dong battle could well be in prospect.

YM, meanwhile, will hope to push their claims for an IHL place against Monkstown in what could be one of the key fixtures this season in this race. Both progressed to the Neville Cup semi-finals and will be aiming to build on that early season optimism.

They have both picked up antipodean recruits with Todd Gill and Simon Mills for the Y and Andy Ewington for the Town while Cliff Bailey will face his schoolboy club.

John McInroy’s UCD face Glenanne with a series of new recruits in tow with Shane O’Donnell adding to the influx in the last fortnight.

He joins new skipper Tim Hill (TRR), Ross Gribben (Corinthian) and Ronan Flannery (Pembroke) as central to their new outlook. They lost to an understrength Glens team in their last warm-up match in midweek, for whom Eddie O’Malley was in top form.

With the Glens international trio returning, the Tallaght side are favourites to overturn the surprise draw in the corresponding fixture last term.

Elsewhere, Three Rock host Railway Union in what will be their first official outing of the season though a youthful selection has lined out in preseason games against Mossley, Banbridge, Clontarf, YM and Monkstown.

Stephen O’Keefe and Karl Chapple come in while Mark Jenkins returns to Monkstown and Brendan O’Connor has relocated to Galway.

Former Munster U-21 Greg O’Driscoll returns to the sport with Railway, too.
Rovers, meanwhile, have Mikey Maguire and Peter Blakeney back in the fold, returning from Australia earlier this week.

Pembroke, meanwhile, will expect a win from their opening league game against Clontarf with Andy McConnell and Adam Pritchard in line for debuts against the division one new-boys.

* A team-by-team preview will be posted this evening

Men’s Division One (Saturday)
Pembroke Wanderers vs Clontarf, 2.45pm, Serpentine Ave; Three Rock Rovers vs Railway Union, 3pm, Grange Road; Corinthian vs Fingal, 2.30pm, Whitechurch Park; YMCA vs Monkstown, 2pm, Alexandra College; UCD vs Glenanne, 1.30pm, Belfield

Men's Leinster Senior Div 1