Men’s IHL 2010/11: Runners and Riders

2010/11 IHL draw

Men’s Pool A: Cookstown, Corinthian, Glenanne, Annadale, Cork C of I, Lisnagarvey.
Men’s Pool B: Pembroke, Banbridge, Instonians, Monkstown, Cork Harlequins, YMCA.

Pool A

Last Year: 6th Pool B

IHL Record: (3rd appearance) P10 W3 D1 L6 GF 21 GA 26
Qualification as: 4th in Ulster
The lowdown: Just seven days since losing 3-2 to Cookstown, ’Dale will hope for a quick reversal of fortunes. There is plenty of quality to go around with Davy Smyth holding the fort, Peter Caruth up top and Ulster U-21 skipper Neil Hamilton shooting a few corners. Last year’s IHL campaign is best forgotten, ending without a win or draw from their five games following a strong semi-final bid a year earlier. Three Kirk Cup wins have raised spirits somewhat around Lough Moss but they have three sticky away days and it is tough to see them advance.

Last Year: 4th Pool B
IHL Record: (3rd appearance) P10 W2 D4 L4 GF 16 GA 23
Qualification as: Ulster champions
The lowdown: Cookstown pulled off a rare win for anybody last season with success at Glenanne Park but just one more win meant they never built on that first round triumph with their IHL campaign fading out thereafter. The reigning Ulster champions have struggled for form in the past two seasons and this year again looks tough with Ivan Steen retiring and David Ames moving to Beeston. Ian and Stephen Sloan and Tim Smyth though are all a year older and wiser while international Keith Black snapped up a goal in a 3-2 season-opening win over Annadale, whom they meet seven days on in the first IHL round. They begin with three home ties at their impressive Coolnafranky home – Cork C of I and Lisnagarvey in the next two rounds – before two Dublin trips finish the group. While they have had success at Tallaght before, they will hope to be in position when March comes.

Last Year: semi-finalists, lost 6-5 to Lisnagarvey
IHL Record: (2nd appearance) Pl 6 W2 D2  L2 GF 16 GA 16
Qualification as: 2nd in Leinster
The lowdown: A tough start to the Leinster campaign and last season’s heroics – reaching the semi-finals before losing out in the best game in the competition’s history against Lisnagarvey – looks a long time ago already following a Neville Cup exit to Railway Union and a second half capitulation to Three Rock. Francisco Corradini looked a stylish addition, though, in his debut and will need to get up to speed quickly as they begin their campaign against tournament favourites Glenanne. The loss of Andrew Cronje, Darren Kimfley and Brian Doherty has hit hard and makes it difficult to see the side advance.

Cork C of I
Last Year: 5th in Pool B
IHL Record: (3rd appearance) Pl 10 W4 D2 L4 GF 31 GA 32
Qualification as: 1st in Munster
The lowdown: As a provincial defender of real zeal, new coach Andy Chambers’ primary concern will be to shore up a defence that has leaked three goals in wins over both Bandon and UCC, especially as they begin their campaign against a side who smacked a half-dozen past them last time out. An ambitious attacking formation could pay dividends with John Jermyn, David Hobbs and Nick Burns the key men. But Stephen Parker, Andy Herbert, Karl Lynch and Ben Dobson moving on leaves the side light on options at the back. Three home ties, though, and hopes of a more fruitful return trip to Corinthian mean there is potential of making a first IHL semi-final in what looks likely to be a rocking and rolling group phase with goals coming thick and fast. Ten previous ties involving CI have averaged over six a game.

Last Year: semi-finalists, lost to Pembroke 5-4
IHL Record: (3rd appearance) Pl 13 W8 D2 L3 GF45 GA33
Qualification as: 3rd in Leinster
The lowdown: De facto favourites as the side to retain most of their top talent though Stephen Butler’s corners and power in midfield is an obvious loss. Shane O’Donoghue and Joe Brennan have already netted in this crucial area and a tidy performance against Fingal in the league last week has been encouraging. Filip Jaros changes the midfield dynamic with his range of indoor-inspired first touches and is less likely to carry the ball from deep. Where Graham Shaw plays will be interesting, too, as the player-coach has appeared in numerous positions around the park already. Favourites they may be but nowhere near as clear as Pembroke in previous years and it’s a tester of a group. Garryduff may not hold too many demons following last year’s big win in Cork while the familiarity of a short-trip over the Dublin mountains to Corinthian is not overly daunting. Repeat ties against Cookstown and Lisnagarvey at home could be the key ones.

Last Year: finalists, lost 4-1 to Pembroke
IHL Record: (3rd appearance) Pl 12 W7 D0 L5 GF44 GA33
Qualification as: Play-off runners-up; 5th in Ulster
The lowdown: Strangely, despite again qualifying via the playoffs, ’Garvey look the best equipped of the Ulster sides to do some damage in the IHL. They have added to the depth of their squad with Andy Forrest and goalkeeper Alex McRoberts (both North Down) and former Trinity and Irish U-21 man Michael Harte (Bangor) moving to the Hillsborough club. Daniel Buser returns after a year in Australia while Peter MacDonnell, Stephen Hunter and Richard Arneill have been retained after choosing to stay in Northern Ireland to study. With John Gray, Mark Raphael and Brian Waring still playing and Jason Lynch staying on at the club as a youth development officer after completing his UU studies, the side is in a healthy state to repeat last year’s form. They began the One19 Premier League as the big winners, 7-2 in Kilkeel.

Pool B

Last Year: 4th, Pool A
IHL Record: (3rd appearance) Pl 11 W5 D1 L5 GF 30 GA 26
Qualification as: 2nd in Ulster
The lowdown: With their two stand-out players still abroad, Geoff McCabe now with Santander in Spain with Mikey Watt and Eugene Magee at Dragons in Belgium, Banbridge continue with a similar panel to last season. Former A international Chris Boyce is a long-term absentee with knee ligament damage, meaning they have a particularly young squad. Niall Kelly, Owen Magee, Drew Carlisle, Stephen Dowds and Scott Forbes will seek guidance from the McCandless brothers with Ross the main source of goals from corners. As form goes, three Kirk Cup wins and a 3-2 league win over newly promoted Civil Service is the recent playlist. This IHL group is particularly open with no side jumping off the page just yet. A tester at Instonians will set the tone.

Cork Harlequins
Last Year: 6th Pool A
IHL Record: (3rd appearance) Pl 10 W2 D2 L6 GF 16 GA 27
Qualification as: 2nd in Munster
The lowdown: Seventeen goals in two league games is some return but back-to-back sixth place finishes in the group stages mean Harlequins will be wary of their return for a third IHL run. They do have Dave Eakins back from Hampstead and Westminster in London after a couple of seasons back. The Irish international returns to Cork and has been reminding locals of his drag-flicking capabilities. Phil McLaughlin is another significant returnee for a third successive trip to Pembroke. That trip will hold less trepidation than previous years while a battle with newcomers YMCA in the second series has a touch of revenge about it – the Dublin side winning in ISC over-time. Quins did finish strong in Pool A last time out, winning two of their last three games and might have more capacity to cause upsets this year with the Black and Lombard brothers still tipping around under the stewardship of Phil Oakley.

Last Year: 3rd Pool A
IHL Record: (3rd appearance) Pl 10 W3 D2 L5 GF 19 GA 23
Qualification as: 3rd in Ulster
The lowdown: Paul Gleghorne is the central piece of a three-pronged set of additions to the squad as youth international James Corry and West Australian Brett Webb add to the panel with just former Irish U-21 Stephen Symington moving on, swapping over to Civil Service. The Shawsbridge side began their league campaign with a tight-knit draw with Mossley and an unbeaten Kirk Cup campaign gives the form guide. Paddy Brown and Mark Irwin still ooze quality while William Robinson offers the flicking option.

Last Year: 5th Pool A
IHL Record: (3rd appearance) Pl 10 W2 D2 L6 GF 23 GA 33
Qualification as: 4th in Leinster
The lowdown: In Kyle Good, Monkstown now have extra pace and quality for Gareth Watkins to play off and, like the Leinster division one, this group does offer up plenty of opportunity if the Town are to make the step up to the next level. Single goal wins over Three Rock and Railway show strength and character rather than a blistering rush of form just yet but the potential is there with Fran Lee able to provide more of the x-factor which has so often been reserved for the Irish Senior Cup. One of a number of sides eyeing a semi-final slot.

Pembroke Wanderers
Last Year: Champions
IHL Record: (3rd appearance) Pl 14 W10 D3 L1 GF 41 GA 18
Qualified as: Leinster champions
The lowdown: The excellently named Brandon Panther – who arrives on Friday afternoon – brings Pembroke’s total of imports from South Africa to four including coach Brendon Carolan as the Serpentine Avenue outfit seek to make it three in-a-row and remain the only winners of the IHL. After the transfer outwards of 600 caps, this season will be the first where Pembroke’s status as favourites is not apparent, especially in light of their league loss to Glenanne. The nature of the IHL draw means they face Cork Harlequins for the third year running and will hope to earn the injections for Jethro Eustice to whip home a few drag-flicks – the sweeper breaking his duck in mid-week against Fingal. His combination at the back with Ronan Flannery looks the side’s most impressive sector at the moment and for all their departures, from a tight group, you still fancy a semi-final place is in the offing.

Last Year: n/a
IHL Record: first appearance
Qualification as: IHL wildcard playoffs, 5th in Leinster
The lowdown: Along with Pembroke, the most active side in the summer with Phil Marshall arriving last weekend to plenty of fanfare while Dashiell Hewett and Marcus Richardson have also arrived from Australia along with Johnny Bruton, the Munster man based down under for the past year or two. David Robinson may miss the first tie – as will Geoff Walker – but could add to the increase in firepower for the Y. With just a league win over Weston and an extra-time win over Railway in the Neville Cup, it’s difficult to judge how well the side has gelled yet but Bruton is capable of providing the goals YM struggled to net last term. Monkstown in round one will be a defining day.

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