The after-effects of the big freeze leaves men’s hockey action in the province fragmented programme with Irish Senior and Mills Cup intertwined with domestic league fixtures.
The main focus will be on Grange Road where Three Rock will attempt to get their Irish Senior Cup second round tie played at the second attempt. The weather forecast for Dublin suggests cold temperatures are predicted overnight with lows of 0 to -2 degrees which may affect playability in the Dublin Mountains.
They welcome a Cookstown side who will include Thomas Hutchinson after a lengthy spell on the sidelines following the reconstruction of his knee. He made his return last week against Bangor in place of David Best to bolster the defence, though the youngster could be back in action, too.
Rovers have use of Peter Blakeney for this weekend of cup action – which also features the Rathfarnham derby against Corinthian in the Leinster Senior Cup on Sunday – before he moves to Italy to take up a professional contract with Roma.
Schoolboy Ian Sloan (pictured, right) could be a major threat, inspiring Cookstown HS to victory in the Burney Cup quarter-finals this week and is making a name for himself at adult level, too.
Monkstown are another side who will be intently watching the weather forecast as their trip to Raphoe a fortnight ago proved in vain as overnight snow enveloped the Royal and Prior ground.
They were buoyed by a comfortable 8-1 midweek Mills Cup win – goals from Andy Ewington, Frank Ryan (2) (bottom, right), Gareth Watkins (2), Brian Groves and Runar O’Moore’s first two goals of the season – and will hope to carry that form into their tie with Ulster’s bottom-placed side.
In the Leinster league, Glenanne will expect full points against Clontarf (Saturday) and Railway Union (Sunday) on home turf to close the gap on Pembroke – who don’t play until Sunday – while YM play Corinthian in a crunch fixture.
As two of the most improved sides on display this season, three points is vital for both. For the reds, they need to stay ahead of the chasing posse, especially with their return match against Pembroke lined up for next week.
YM’s quest for an IHL place would suffer a major blow were they to lose. Jacob Webber has returned to Australia to play in the domestic league down under but the engine room of Will Powderly and Cliff Bailey has been reprising some of their All-Ireland winning glory days with Newpark from the late 1990s to make this a tie to savour.
With Pembroke and Fingal both involved in the Irish Junior Cup, the pair has agreed to switch their division one tie to Sunday with the ‘Broke hoping to succeed where Glenanne failed in the Mills Cup and will hope to show no ill-effects after an intense weekend of indoor action.
They are already confirmed to play in at least the third tier of European indoor competition in 2011. Three Rock head off to Bologna, Italy next week knowing relegation for the Irish representation is impossible following the withdrawal of the Turkish and Serbian entrants who now occupy the relegation slots to the fourth tier of European indoor hockey.
It means, even before a board is rebounded in earnest, Ireland’s place at this level is secure and can only move upwards.
In division two, the highlight is definitely in Sutton where league leaders – in their first division two in 2010 – face title contenders Weston.
Suttonians face a tough run-in with eight league games, the Neville Davin Cup and their Irish Hockey Trophy tie to be played in quick succession.
Their Sutton Park quartet of Shane Diveney, Andrew Tyrell, Harry Spain and Eoin O’Reilly all came through their school’s Trophy tie with High School unscathed but Raoul Holden is out.
Those schoolboys come up against their teacher Brian Scully who lines out for the Lucanites in the midst of an inconsistent run but still very much in contention.
Provided Avoca take full points on home turf against Bray, they will be keen to see if either title rival slips up with Rob Pearson and Jamie Crawford among those who could line out against their former club.
Trinity, meanwhile, look to shake off any touring hangovers against Navan following a club trip to Bath last weekend.
In the Junior Cup, four clubs fly the Leinster flag this weekend with Monkstown and Glenanne’s second round ties pushed back a week.
Railway II host Mossley II; Fingal II travel to Shawsbridge while the home focus is on YMCA II against Pembroke II.
Men’s Irish Senior Cup (Saturday):
Three Rock Rovers v Cookstown, 1pm, Grange Rd; Raphoe v Monkstown, 2.30pm, Royal & Prior
Leinster Men’s Division One (Saturday):
Glenanne vs Clontarf, 3pm, Glenanne Park; YMCA vs Corinthian, 1.30pm, Alexandra College
(Sunday): Fingal vs Pembroke, 2.30pm, ALSAA; Glenanne vs Railway Union, 1pm, Glenanne Park
Leinster Men’s Division Two (Saturday):
Suttonians vs Weston, 1pm, Sutton Park; Avoca vs Bray, 1.45pm, Newpark; Dublin University vs Navan, 2pm, Grange Road, Back Pitch
Leinster Senior Mills Cup (Sunday):
Three Rock Rovers vs Corinthian, 3pm, Grange Road
Men’s Irish Junior Cup – Round 2 (Saturday)
Railway Union II v Mossley II, 1pm, Park Ave; Bandon II v Bangor II, 3.30pm, Bandon GS; YMCA II v Pembroke W II, 3.30pm, Alex College; Belfast HQ II v Lisnagarvey II, 1pm, Deramore Pk; Instonians II v Fingal II, 4pm, Shawsbridge
Men’s Irish Hockey Challenge – Round 2 (Saturday):
Omagh v Limerick, 1pm, Youth sport; Portrush v PSNI, 1pm, Ballycastle; Naas v Ballynahinch, 2.30pm, Caragh Road; St Brendans v Kilkenny, 2.30pm, RCSI; Parkview v Larne, 1pm, Ballyclare; St James Gate v Portrane, 2pm, Iveagh Grounds; Saintfield v Ballymena; Campbellians w/o Ashton scr