The time for calling 8-3 preseason defeats as “learning experiences” and claiming “it’s only the Neville Cup” is over as the Leinster division one season’s tip off this weekend.
A fixture calendar with a delicious sense of drama has produced a fascinating opening series of ties as perennial rivals Pembroke and Glenanne face off in Tallaght on Saturday afternoon. The visitors have undergone a huge, well-documented turnover in personnel in the summer months while the hosts have lost the services of Irish top goalscorer Stephen Butler.
The rivalry is likely to endure but whether all the changes can be absorbed that quickly will be Brendon Carolan’s first major task.
Monkstown, meanwhile, will hope for a show of strength against Three Rock Rovers at Rathdown – a side they were unable to budge in two highly entertaining fixtures last year that yielded 11 goals. The hosts have gained while Rovers have lost players – directly in the case of Kyle Good – and the Rathdown side have reason to believe this is the year to step up.
Weston’s debut in the top flight in their 63rd year is another great story as the presence of Alan Browne in division one makes a welcome return – this time in a player-coach role. He has goalkeeping issues on the mind as Vinny Byrne is getting married on Saturday.
YMCA are the opponents at Alexandra College while Railway Union play Fingal in the other fixture of the weekend.
To welcome in the new season, The Hook is here to provide the runners and riders for the site’s fourth season covering Leinster hockey.
Click the following links to read more:
Saturday fixtures: Monkstown vs Three Rock Rovers, 1.30pm, Rathdown; Railway Union vs Fingal, 1.15pm, Park Avenue; YMCA vs Weston, 1.30pm, Alexandra College; Glenanne vs Pembroke, 2pm, St Mark’s
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