Railway Union could all but guarantee an IHL playoff place – at the very least – this weekend as they take the longest unbeaten run in division one into their tie with Fingal.
It is a far cry from September when back-to-back losses got their season off to a low-key start but Rob Abbott and English brother’s relish for goals has seen them bounce back brilliantly.
Eoin MacArthur has also been inspired at times while Jeremy Duncan’s trickery and Richie Forrest’s dynamism have been underpinned by Kenny Carroll at the back. Fingal will certainly not be pushovers but have endured a difficult campaign after what looked a strong pre-season campaign.
A glut of early season injuries and unavailability saw IHL ambitions put on the back-burner and they now are more pressed by a relegation tussle as they and UCD have not been able to shake off Clontarf.
That they nabbed a last gasp point last week against the Bulls was vital but they do struggle against sides looking to sit deep and counter – a tactic which they like to employ themselves.
It has been effective, though, against sides looking to play an open game and that will be the hope against Railway on Saturday. Glenanne’s new-found status as front-runners will be put to the test at Grange Road as 11 of Three Rock’s first team panel look to adapt from indoor to outdoor hockey.
Nonetheless, confidence is up for Rovers, with just one defeat in normal time in either format in 19 games. Craig Moore has a hamstring doubt while David Storey’s participation for the rest of the campaign is limited by a twisted knee.
Monkstown, meanwhile, have had the confusion surrounding their postponement against Pembroke from last Sunday vindicated as the IHA issued an updated response, stating:
“The IHA would like to confirm that Monkstown did not receive information that their two international players Gareth Watkins and David Fitzgerald were available for Sunday 19th February until after the appeal. We apologise for indicating that they received this information some months ago.”
A refix date for this game has not yet been confirmed to The Hook. Another big date awaits on Saturday as they go in search of a first league title since 1982. Against YMCA, both sides have injury issues with David Robinson and Andy Walker the Y’s main problems while David and Stephen Cole are out for the Town.
The sky-blues have stuttered since Christmas but Kyle Good has hit some scoring form – three in two games – and his late winner against UCD keeps them right in the mix with their outcome still very much in their own hands.
The students, meanwhile, will look to Saturday as a date to potentially take advantage of a Corinthian side with not much to play for. IHL looks beyond reach but another win is necessary to skip away from any latent relegation trouble.
Pembroke have the task of breaking through Stephen Cairns’ defences as the goalkeeper put in two stunning performances last weekend for Clontarf. Anything they can garner from this tie will be a bonus having hauled themselves back in contention to avoid the drop.
In division two, Avoca and Suttonians meet in what looks a title decider at Newpark with the hosts desperately unlucky to be without Rob Pearson. Two games back from injury yielded three corner goals from the former Bray man but he fractured a finger against Portrane to halt his progress.
One of those came in the last meeting of the two sides a fortnight ago in which Sutton did not make best use of plenty of possession. Sharp-shooter Conor Gillett and Jack Ryan’s emerging talents have been deployed well by Mick McGuinness in his maiden year as player-coach but this tie could be make or break.
They will extend their lead over the chasers as Trinity are on the bye weekend. Weston’s fleeting promotion hopes require a result against Mullingar while Portrane meet Rathgar.
In the Irish Junior Cup, just two Leinster sides remain in the quarter-finals and they both come from either side of Marlay Park. Adrian Missen’s Corinthian side travel the short hop to face a youthful Three Rock Rovers’ side looking to make it back-to-back semi-finals. Holders Lisnagarvey go to Cork C of I while there are two all-Ulster dates.
Men’s weekend fixtures (Saturday unless stated)
Men’s Leinster Division One: UCD v Corinthian, 1.15pm, Belfield; YMCA v Monkstown, 1.30pm, Milltown; Railway Union v Fingal, 1.30pm, Park Avenue; Three Rock Rovers v Glenanne, 2pm, Grange Road; Pembroke Wanderers v Clontarf, 2pm, Serpentine Avenue
Tuesday: YMCA v TRR, 8pm, Milltown
Division Two: Avoca v Suttonians, 2pm, Newpark; Weston v Mullingar, 3pm, Griffeen Park; Portrane v Rathgar, 1pm, Holy Faith, Glasnevin
Men’s Irish Junior Cup, quarter finals: Three Rock Rovers v Corinthian, 3.45pm, Grange Road; Cork C of I v Lisnagarvey, 1pm, Garryduff; Kilkeel v Cookstown, 2.30pm, Kilkeel HS; Anndale v Banbridge, 2.30pm, Lough Moss