With Pembroke and Glenanne in Europe, there is a chance for Three Rock, Monkstown, Corinthian or YMCA to apply some light, early pressure on the top two in their absence as four league fixtures are up for decision.
Monkstown and Corinthian currently lie in a share for second and with both side’s willingness to use the auto-pass to fast effect it should provide a lively, open affair.
Both sides, however, struggled last weekend – Corinthian under Peter English’s aerial bombardment and the Town against an emerging student force from UCD. It is a dress rehearsal for January’s key IHL battle and will give a good marker, too, of either club’s league ambitions.
Three Rock visit their bogey ground at ALSAA where they suffered a 2-0 set-back in last year’s IHL but have South African Pierre de Voux getting up to speed. His robust nature should be well suited to the Irish game and will mix it up with Peter Blakeney up top. Perenially wounded David Bane is again an injury concern for Fingal.
Having both pushed Rovers to the limit in the past two weeks, Railway Union and Clontarf have an opportunity to show who has more about them to clear the relegation zone.
Both have benefitted from Ireland’s cricket team pulling out of a tour to Sri Lanka as Kevin O’Brien and Andrew Poynter now look set to be available until Christmas.
UCD will also have something to prove as Jamie Tobin and Rob Anderson get an early opportunity to shine against their former club, YMCA, in a match sensibly moved forward from January 2. Both are without a win to date but have shown signs to date that they will be competitive and possibly push for the top five.
Leinster Men’s Division One fixtures (Saturday)
Railway Union v Clontarf, 2.45pm, Park Avenue (J Girdham, S O’Connor); Fingal v Three Rock Rovers, 1.30pm, ALSAA (A Groves, K Cholewa); Monkstown v Corinthian, 1.30pm, Rathdown (N MacKay, S Ferguson); UCD vs YMCA, 4.30pm, Belfield (M Campbell, P Henchey)