The National Indoor Trophy hots up this weekend as the six men’s finalists and five more women’s teams will be confirmed to join the Ulster Elks and Ards.
Eight of those places will come from Leinster with plenty of intrigue still to be played out in the four groups, starting from game one in Loughlinstown. There, Clontarf and Railway Union’s perfect records will be put to the test (11am) with a winner all but confirming their place in the finals weekend.
Railway are on a high after their Neville Cup victory but there initial indoor entry gave few hints as to Kenny Carroll’s side’s form this time around. They were handed a 5-0 victory due to Dublin Uni’s suspension and, with little at stake, they experimented without a goalkeeper at times to record a 5-4 friendly victory against the students.
A 5-2 win over Suttonians followed in their first competitive match but Clontarf look to be their first major test with Maverick Yow and James Gurbiel making for a lively, Anitpodean-inspired front-line while fellow Aussie Dan Scott could add to their strike-power.
Railway, meanwhile, will be without Donal O’Mearain, indoor and outdoor, for the rest of the season as his studies have taken him to Singapore. YMCA are the side lying in wait for the second play-off place from group two, completing their group stage with one game this weekend against Railway on Sunday while Suttonians are out of the running.
In group one, Three Rock have the sole perfect record but have played just twice and their fate will be decided in a three-hour period as they face two big games in quick succession. First is top of the table clash with Glenanne at midday before meeting Corinthian at 2pm. They do so without Peter McConnell who has returned from injury but is now exam-tied.
The Glens cannot call on the injured pair of Filip Jaros and Joe Brennan – who underwent surgery just before Christmas – but were more than handy on the first weekend of play with two wins and a loss.
Corinthian have an outside chance of progression but must win their tie with Three Rock and hope for favours elsewhere. Pembroke, meanwhile, currently lie in second place and a win over Weston on Saturday could set up a major showdown with the Glens for a final six place.
Ulster’s group also tips off this weekend with Irish Senior Cup holders Cookstown getting some tips from Beeston indoor player David Ames in recent times in their return to the competition. Annadale, Instonians, NICS and Mossley compete with them for two playoff places.
On the women’s side, in group two, Glenanne and Hermes look virtually home and hosed following three wins a piece on the first weekend of competition, the former running up an emphatic plus 22 goal difference. The pair meet on Sunday in their respective final group game but will likely be confirmed in the finals weekend by that stage.
It means the proposed Leinster league date between Alex and UCD is pushed back but there are four division two games outdoors to start the New Year with Pembroke aiming to keep their place at the top division with a date with Genesis.
Leinster Men’s (all at Loughlinstown Lesiure Centre)
Men’s Group One standings (played): 1. Glenanne (3) 7pts (+10) 2. Pembroke (3) 6pts (+11) 3. TRR (2) 6pts (+7) 4. Corinthian (4) 5pts (0) 5. Fingal (3) 1pt (-10) 6. Weston (3) 0pts (-17)
Group Two: 1. Clontarf (3) 9pts (+7) 2. Railway (2) 6pts (+8) 3. YMCA (3) 6pts (+6) 4. Suttonians (3) 3pts (+1) 5. Dublin University (4) 0pts (-20)
Saturday fixtures: Clontarf v Railway Union, 10am; Pembroke v Weston, 11am; Glenanne v TRR, 12pm; Fingal v Weston, 1pm; Corinthian v TRR, 2pm; Suttonians v Dublin Uni, 3pm
Sunday: Glenanne v Pembroke, 12pm; YMCA v Railway, 1pm; Fingal v TRR, 2pm
Ulster men’s (Lagan Valley Leaisure Centre)
Saturday: Instonians v Mossley, 10am; Annadale v Cookstown, 11am; NICS v Mossley, 12pm; Instonians v Cookstown, 1pm; NICS v Annadale, 2pm
Sunday: NICS v Cookstown, 10.30am; Annadale v Mossley, 11.30am; NICS v Instonians, 12.30pm; Mossley v Cookstown, 1.30pm; Annadale v Instonians, 2.30pm
Women’s Leinster groups (all at the Shoreline Leisure Centre, Greystones)
Women’s Group One standings (played): 1. Old Alex (2) 6pts (+11) 2. Railway Union (1) 3pts (+9) 3. Trinity (1) 3pts (+2) 4. Genesis (2) 0pts (-9) 5. Pembroke (2) 0pts (-13)
Group Two (played): 1. Glenanne (3) 9pts (+22) 2. Hermes (3) 9pts (+9) 3. Corinthian (2) 3pts (-2) 4. Clontarf (3) 3pts (-6) 5. Avoca (3) 3pts (-8) 6. Newbridge (3) 0pts (-14)
Saturday fixtures: Newbridge v Glenanne, 3.30pm; Trinity v Old Alex, 4.15pm; Newbridge v Avoca, 5pm; Hermes v Corinthian, 5.45pm; Avoca v Clontarf, 6.30pm; Genesis v Railway, 7.15pm
Sunday: Old Alex v Railway, 10am; Trinity v Pembroke, 11am; Corinthian v Clontarf, 12pm; Trinity v Railway, 1pm; Hermes v Glenanne, 1.45pm; Genesis v Pembroke, 2.30pm
Connacht group (all at NUI Galway): Greenfields v Galway, 11.15am; Galway v Greenfields, 12.30pm; Galway v Greenfields, 2pm
Leinster Women’s Division Two (Saturday): Pembroke v Genesis, 11am, Serpentine Ave; Newbridge v Corinthian, 11.30am, St Mary’s, Naas; North Kildare v UCD, 11.45am, Kilcock; Railway Union v Loreto, 2.15pm, Park Ave