Glenanne will aim to top off their domestic season in style as just a point is all that is needed in Milltown to confirm their fifth Leinster league title, a debut title for Graham Shaw in his new role as player-coach.
His side have lasted the pace more consistently than Saturday’s rivals, YMCA, who matched the Tallaght side step-for-step until the last month. Indeed, much of the damage was inflicted before the showdown at Glenanne Park last weekend.
David Robinson’s absence has been felt as they dropped ten points in March having previously let just five slip in their initial ten games.
Nonetheless, their finish this year will be a fifth successive season under Trevor Dagg in which they have improved their league position and they still have to secure second place to ensure three home ties in next year’s IHL.
For the Glens, it looks set to end looking a comfortable finish to the season despite four games in a week. Shane O’Donoghue has continued his progression and looks, not least as a worthy successor to Stephen Butler’s mantle as the Tallaght side’s top corner man.
The imperious Joe Brennan continues to put in tackles few others would dare to while the likes of Brendan Parsons and Mick McGuinness serve multiple purposes, notably at times as overlapping full-backs.
Stephen Brownlow has added plenty of goals this year in his maiden year with the club and is set for a first senior medal.
Last Sunday’s tie with Railway was indicative that the fight is still within them ahead of their IHL playoffs, hoping to secure a title which they feel has evaded them the past two years in controversial circumstances.
Elsewhere, the battle is primarily for the wildcard shot. Three Rock will hope to finish off what they created last Saturday in the return match against Pembroke and have a couple of players back in contention for places – Ross Varian, Garry Ringwood and Alan Bothwell.
It is timely with four home games in a week, Weston visiting on Tuesday night before ending with the double-up of UCD and Fingal.
Gordy Elliott missed last week’s game but always relishes facing his former club and could be an addition to add the magic to go with his side’s high proportion of possession enjoyed last time round.
Corinthian, though, can keep that challenge at arm’s length should they give under-strength Monkstown a double-dose of misfortune. Chris Pelow is now in Australia but the Town have plenty of doubts to nurse – David Cole and Kyle Good among them.
Railway are not out of the running just yet and a repeat three points against Weston keeps them in contention for fifth but, with two games extra played, they need favours from disinterested parties.
Fingal and UCD play the remaining game, the ALSAA hosts still smarting from the closing smash and grab steal by the students.
In division two, a replenished Avoca got back in striking distance of Clontarf when they swept aside the Chiefs last weekend and, with Ezra Handelman and Scott Wilkie back in tow, if they can do the same to Suttonians then it will remain game on.
The Bulls have the box seat but tricky ties against the Blackrock outfit and Trinity still to come mean they are not home and hosed.
Throw in another north Dublin derby on Tuesday night, hot on the heals of a tie with Navan, and the ravages of a lengthy second half of the season may take their toll.
Trinity need full points at the Chiefs to keep their bid alive though they have the bonus of not facing alumni Paul Tuthill, Aengus Stanley and Nick Odlum who all emigrated during the season.
Portrane, meanwhile, have a big day ahead of them as they take on the Irish Hockey Challenge final when they face fellow division four side Kilkenny.
In a full day of activities, the club’s youth section will travel to Milltown for a special training session on the morning of the day with Irish internationals Shirley McCay among others providing the coaching.
They will then support their club’s first eleven who have Nasir Munir returning to the Belfield stage where he starred in the 2007 Irish Senior Cup win for Glenanne against Annadale.
The cats, meanwhile, are a different animal to the one who competed in division one two seasons ago but do include former Fingal and Leinster U-21 man Emmett Hughes while ex-Trinity keeper Omar Mafoud is the last line of defence.
Keeping the lively Ralph Billings and Mukthar Ahmed will be a key concern as free-scoring Portrane recorded a 6-3 win in these side’s earlier meeting this season. Banbridge and Lisnagarvey contest an all-Ulster Irish Junior Cup final.
Two Leinster cups will be decided on Sunday, too, with Corinthian II and Railway Union II making it into the Railway Cup final while Glenanne V are aiming to retain the Minor Cup. They face the Rathgar Chiefs second team, playing the club’s first ever cup final and who reached the decider in slightly fortuitous fashion, receiving two walkovers en route.
Men’s Leinster Division One, Saturday: YMCA vs Glenanne, 3pm, Milltown; Monkstown vs Corinthian, 1.30pm, Rathdown; Railway Union vs Weston, 12.30pm, Park Avenue; Fingal vs UCD, 1.30pm, ALSAA; Three Rock Rovers vs Pembroke, 1.30pm, Grange Road Sunday: Corinthian vs Fingal, 12.25pm, Whitechurch Park Tuesday: TRR vs Weston, 8pm, Grange Road Wednesday: Corinthian vs Glenanne, 7.45pm, Whitechurch Park
Division Two, Saturday: Clontarf vs Navan, 2pm, Mount Temple; Rathgar Chiefs vs Dublin University, TBC, High School; Suttonians vs Avoca, 1.30pm, Sutton Park
ESB Electric Men’s Irish Hockey Challenge final, Saturday: Portrane vs Kilkenny, 1.15pm, Belfield ESB Electric Men’s Irish Hockey Trophy final, Sunday: Banbridge vs Lisnagarvey, 1.15pm, Belfield
Railway Cup final, Sunday: Corinthian II vs Railway Union II, ,
Minor Cup final, Sunday: Glenanne V vs Rathgar Chiefs II, 4.15pm, St Columba’s
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