Judgement day for men’s IHL hopefuls

With Lisnagarvey winning 3-1 in Cookstown on Thursday night, their home tie with Corinthian is very much the key tie on the men’s IHL Pool A’s judgement day.

Whoever wins returns to the semi-finals of the competition while anything else will leaves the sides anxiously waiting on a text from Tallaght where Glenanne face already eliminated Cookstown.

The refix of last Saturday’s snow-bound match-up saw Garvey race into a 2-0 lead through Timmy Cockram and Daniel Buser before Andy Barbour got one back on the half-time hooter.

Greg Thompson got the conclusive goal in the final quarter which kept the Hillsborough side’s chances alive in the competition.

Missing out on a bonus point does put them in a catch-up position, meaning a draw could work in the reds’ favour.

It is a repeat of last year’s incredible 6-5 semi-final but the cast list is vastly different. Argentinian Francisco Corradini has been a classy addition in Brian Doherty’s place and, while his drag-flicks have been missed, Chris Pelow has rediscovered his scoring touch at the set-piece.

Indeed, last week the Irish international was a powerhouse against Cork C of I and they will be hopeful of over-turning their Irish Senior home loss against Garvey earlier this season.

How Glenanne bounce back from an emotional week will be critical, especially with extra-time in their legs from Thursday.
Graham Shaw picked up a late knock which may niggle him on Saturday – a refix of a rare home loss in last year’s competition.

A home loss could open them up to elimination but a draw will see them through to the final four for the third successive IHL year. Annadale travel to Garryduff to face Cork C of I in a dead-rubber.

Pool B is even more fraught, four teams vying for two places. One of Pembroke and Monkstown will go through from their battle at Serpentine Avenue with the former looking to avenge two recent losses.

They are buoyed by the re-signing of Brendon Carolan who has agreed to another year at the coaching helm but he has injury problems to contend with.

Monkstown may have a few bumps and bruises from Thursday’s roller-coaster, Kyle Good’s hand one of the issues. YMCA travel to Banbridge for another make-or-break tie but may be ruing letting a bonus point slip in the closing stages of last week’s tie with Inst.

Bann are without Stephen Dowds which could be a vital factor as they need to win to have any chance of making it through.

Cork Harlequins and Instonians is the dead-rubber in this group, making UCC’s Irish Hockey Trophy fixture with Clontarf the big game in Munster – the student’s first national semi-final in over 100 years.

Roger and Andy Gray are the ones for Gareth Borland’s free-scoring side to contain while Andy Poynter’s fast hands around the circle provide the Dubliner’s main threat.

In the Irish Junior Cup, Three Rock are on the road for the fourth time, this time going to Lisnagarvey after two trips south, in the one semi-final to be played this weekend.

Men’s Irish Hockey League fixtures:
Pool A:
Cork C of I vs Annadale, 12.45pm, Garryduff; Glenanne vs Cookstown, 12.45pm, St Marks; Lisnagarvey vs Corinthian, 12.45pm, Hillsborough
Pool B: Banbridge vs YMCA, 2.45pm, Havelock Park; Cork Harlequins vs Instonians, 2.45pm, Farmer’s Cross; Pembroke Wanderers vs Monkstown, 2.45pm, Serpentine Avenue

Men’s Irish Hockey Trophy: UCC vs Clontarf, 12.30pm, The Mardyke; South Antrim vs Belfast Harlequins, 2.30pm, Laurelhill Sportszone
Men’s Irish Junior Cup Semi Final (Saturday): Lisnagarvey vs Three Rock Rovers, 3.15pm, Hillsborough

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