Men’s Irish Hockey League – Round five preview
With points and goal difference level, Monkstown and Banbridge’s parallel 4pm ties on Saturday against Cork Harlequins and Glenanne respectively provide an epic climax to the men’s IHL group stages.
The equation looks reasonably simple. Whichever side records the better result gets the prize of a guaranteed semi-final place. It will most likely come at the expense of their direct rivals barring the table-toppers Cookstown capitulating at the Shawsbridge against Instonians.
Bann’s trip to Tallaght looks the much tougher of the two dates, a match-up with plenty of bite since their lively semi-final in Grange Road in the inaugural IHL competition.
The Town, meanwhile, host Quins at Rathdown with the momentum of their closing quarter victory over the Glens in which internationals David Cole and David Fitzgerald starred but they have a severe injury list to contend with.
Gareth Watkins and Kyle Good are out for the remainder of the season with broken bones while Robbie McFarlane and Rob Mason are also out. Harlequins have nothing to lose and a midweek win over Bandon edged them closer to the Munster senior league title.
Cookstown’s target will be at least a draw to guarantee them top spot from the group. Ian Sloan will be the man to watch in the Cookstown side with Mark Irwin and William Robinson giving goal scoring possibilities for Instonians.
In Pool B, YMCA are very much in the box-seat with even a one-goal, losing bonus point against Three Rock Rovers being good enough to see them through to the semi-finals for the first time, joining Lisnagarvey.
With David Robinson and Andy Walker returning at just the right time, the Y produced one of their most complete performances of the season last Saturday against injury-stricken Pembroke.
They face a Rovers’ side who have top-scorer Peter Blakeney back for the first time since playing Clontarf in the league in mid-March while David Storey also returned to training this week after a lengthy absence. Ali Haughton looks set to be out, though.
But Arul Anthoni may stick with the youth policy for the final game of the season, one which garnered a win in Cork last time round. Should they manage to get two goals ahead of YM, then Annadale and Cork C of I might get a sniff of the semis as they meet at Lough Moss. A bonus point victory is the only thing which can keep either side’s interest alive.
Garvey’s battle with Pembroke at Comber Road will be instructive in terms of how the sides will fare in their upcoming Irish Senior Cup tie but has little on the line otherwise.
Adrian Missen and his Corinthian II side go in search of the Whitechurch club’s very first Irish Junior Cup title on Sunday in Belfield as they take on Cookstown, having ousted reigning champions Lisnagarvey last Sunday.
Clive Hennessy’s corners could play a vital role while there is the usual mix of youth and experience of classic second teams – goalkeeper Jakim Bernsden, Andrew Malcolm and Stephen Reid countered by stalwarts like Missen and Stephen Williams.
Six Leinster cup titles will be decided over the course of the weekend with Three Rock taking part in three of them – the Inter, Minor and Walters’ deciders.
The Railway Cup sees Pembroke II trying to keep a double dream alive after their midweek division three playoff date with Glenanne II was cut short by floodlight issues at Whitechurch Park.
It is one of three finals the Serpentine Avenue club will play on Sunday – the women’s IJC and the Walters final the others. Monkstown have a busy Sunday, too, at Grange Road as their second team play in that Railway Cup showdown straight a thirds/fourths amalgam play in the Galtrim Cup final.
Irish Hockey League, Pool A (all Saturday at 4pm): Glenanne v Banbridge, Glenanne Park; Monkstown v Cork Harlequins, Rathdown; Instonians v Cookstown, Shawsbridge
Pool B (all Saturday at 2pm): Annadale v Cork C of I, Lough Moss; Lisnagarvey v Pembroke, Comber Road; YMCA v Three Rock Rovers, Milltown
Irish Junior Cup final (Sunday): Corinthian II v Cookstown II, 3.30pm, Belfield
Railway Cup final (Sunday): Pembroke II vs Monkstown II, 4pm, Grange Road
Intermediate Cup final (Saturday): Three Rock Rovers IV vs Fingal III, 2pm, Serpentine Avenue
Junior Cup final (Saturday): Portrane II vs Bray, 4pm, Serpentine Avenue
Minor Cup final (Saturday): Three Rock Rovers V vs Navan II, 12pm, Serpentine Avenue
Galtrim Cup final (Sunday): Glenanne vs Monkstown, 2pm, Grange Road
Walters Cup final (Sunday): Three Rock Rovers vs Pembroke, 12pm, Grange Road