Vital showdowns galore for Div One hopefuls

Another series of vital fixtures in all the major scramble for positions as the penultimate weekend of the season sees the title chase, IHL tussle and relegation play-off battle all reach fever pitch.

Table-toppers Corinthian are at full strength for their home fixture against Marlay Park neighbours Three Rock Rovers, themselves bidding to keep a grip on and IHL berth.

Glenanne and Pembroke’s title bid, meanwhile, takes in a double-header this culminating in the pairs duel at St Mark’s on Sunday.

The Glens will be hoping for a modicum of revenge against Fingal for their Mills Cup exit at the quarter-final stage. David Bane has now served a two-match ban – one internal, one added by the Disciplinary committee – for incidents at the end of that fixture.

The Tallaght side impressed mightily in the opening stages against Three Rock on Thursday and will want a suitably lightning start to allow them more leeway to rotate players.

Pembroke face another side battling for fourth spot when they travel to Monkstown – the scene of last season’s league title annexation – for what always proves a fast, free-flowing tie. But Sunday is the weekend’s true highlight on the domestic scene.

Glenanne’s counter-attacking game in the Senior Cup proved the tactics to negate Pembroke’s rapier-like bursts from the back but whether such a move will work again remains to be seen.

Steven Doran was immense that day and, in his absence, emerging star Gareth Carragher will be put to the test by Alan Sothern et al. YMCA and Monkstown both play Clontarf this weekend, hoping to strengthen their hand in the race for a top four spot.

UCD’s tie with Railway Union has been pushed back to midweek with the latter side in Irish Junior action on Saturday afternoon in Lisnagarvey.

Meanwhile, in division two Weston and Suttonians meet in what will prove to be a crucial fixture with a winner taking over top spot with three fixtures to go.

Suttonians bounced back after a couple of rough weeks in the league to record an excellent win over Belfast Harlequins last weekend to reach the Irish Hockey Trophy final.

Simon Walsh banged in a first half reverse and was subsequently on hand to play a sublime one-two with Conor Gillett to double the lead before Quins came back late on. (For more pictures from that game, click here)

Quinn’s combination with Gillett remains a serious threat for the Lucanites to watch out for but will hope the experience of Alan Browne, Shane O’Hare and Brian Scully can lift them to the top of the rankings. Trinity, meanwhile, will hope to put the pressure on in the race for a play-off spot as they host Bray at Grange Road.

In the Junior Cup, YM seconds will hope to continue their incredible winning streak to reach the last four of the competition. They started the season in patchy form but since Christmas have won every fixture.

Lisnagarvey II and Cork C of I II remain the current favourites, given their mix of experience and young up-and-coming talent – always the key ingredient at this level – though Cookstown II could be coming of age, too.

Monkstown II – enjoying an excellent year on the national cup circuit – and Fingal II meet at Rathdown to ensure a Leinster presence in the semi-finals.

Men’s Division One
Saturday: Corinthian v Three Rock Rovers, 2.15pm, St Columba’s; Glenanne v Fingal, 12pm, St Mark’s; Monkstown v Pembroke, 1pm, Rathdown; YMCA v Clontarf, 1.30pm, Alexandra College
Sunday: Glenanne v Pembroke, 1pm, St Mark’s; Clontarf v Monkstown, 2.30pm, Mount Temple

Men’s Division Two (Saturday)
Dublin University vs Bray, 11am, Grange Road; Weston vs Suttonians, 1.15pm, Griffeen Valley Park

Men’s Irish Junior Cup Quarter Final (Saturday)
Bangor II v YMCA II, 1pm, Ballykilliare; Lisnagarvey II v Railway Union II, 2.30pm, Hillsborough; Monkstown II v Fingal II, 2.40pm, Rathdown; Cork C of I II v Cookstown II, 2pm, Garryduff

Men's Leinster Senior Div 1