A hectic weekend of hockey on six different fronts gets underway early on Friday morning as the schoolboy interpros tip off in Belfield at 10am with the meeting of Ulster and Munster’s U-16s.
A notable change in the tournament structure, though, is that all underage interpros will be played in Dublin for the foreseeable future with the costs of the teams being put into one pot and then divided equally between the provinces.
The U-16 and U-18 schoolgirl’s competitions get underway on Saturday at Grange Road and will run until Sunday evening.In Banbridge, Paul Revington’s preparations for November’s World Cup Qualifier continue with a three game series against a Scottish senior men’s side with a WCQ of their own fast-approaching in Invercargill, New Zealand.
Revington will hope his outfit can start to find the target, especially in the wake of a scoreless draw with Instonians last Sunday at the club’s anniversary celebrations.
Scotland will be coached by Olympic gold medallist Russell Garcia who takes temporary charge of a squad of 20 players travelling to these shores. He includes five debutants with Kelburne duo David and Alan Forsyth among the newcomers – potential Pembroke EHL opponents.
In total, eight Kelburne players will play in Banbridge.Garcia steps in for John Royce whose contract ran out at the end of the Europeans and was previously involved with Scotland’s development squad.
That international series means the battle of the big two is delayed until after the EHL as Pembroke and Glenanne have heavy involvements in the Irish set-up.
YMCA’s tie with Fingal has also been pulled with both side missing first teamers due to the underage interpros.
It leaves just three men’s Leinster league games up for decision. The pick of them could well be UCD’s trip to Monkstown as the students get a more realistic test of their aspirations than last week’s mauling by Glenanne.
College sides invariably start slow, especially without the two week’s grace this year but John McInroy will hope his charges can start to click sooner rather than later.
Three Rock are still slightly under-strength for the trip to Clontarf while Paul Cooke’s young Railway team face a stern examination from Corinthian, going for a fourth successive win this term.
It will not make their task any easier, though. The Elks may have lost Emma Clarke and Shirley McCay but have held onto French international Philippine Berly and England’s Alice Garrad while adding Commonwealth Games gold medallist Suman Bala from India and South African international Roxanne Turner.
Two Leinster league matches are up for decision, meanwhile, with the two student sides making their seasonal debuts. UCD face a tough opener as they line up against former sweeper Holly Jenkinson in Railway Union’s colours in what could be an absolute cracker – two sides who like the direct route to goal.
Meanwhile, David Bane has professed he has the deepest panel he’s ever had to work with at Trinity but whether he has had time to mould a cohesive unit will be all-important against a Bray side who pushed Pembroke all the way at Serpentine Avenue last week.
Club fixtures (interpro and international fixtures are available at the links above):
Men’s Division 1 (Saturday): Clontarf vs Three Rock Rovers, 2.15pm, Mount Temple (C Deane, K Cholewa); Railway Union vs Corinthian, 2.45pm, Park Avenue (G Conn, M Campbell); Monkstown vs UCD, 3pm, Rathdown (P Henchy, B George)
Division 2: Suttonians vs Dublin University, 3pm, Sutton Park (N Parnell, M Keane); Avoca vs Weston, 2pm, Newpark (D MacNally, G Walsh)
Women’s Division 1 (Saturday): Bray v Trinity, 1pm, Loreto Bray; Railway Union v UCD, 1pm, Park Avenue
ESB Irish Senior Cup (Round 1) (Saturday): Glenanne v Ulster Elks, 1.15pm, Glenanne Park