Monkstown – Men’s Division One preview

Last Season: Second, Division One; Mills Cup runners-up; Neville Cup second round; IHL semi-finalists
Coach: Graham Shaw (1st season)

Players In: Davy Carson (Corinthian), Shane Nolan (UCD)
Players Out: Mark Ingram (Pembroke), Darren Farrell (Cork Harlequins), Richard Sykes (Germany)

Summary: Thirty years since their last Leinster league success, Monkstown will scarcely be better equipped to break their hoodoo in the competition. Agonisingly denied the title on the final day of last term by Glenanne, they have seen their pack bolstered once more with Davy Carson – the league’s highest scorer from play in 2011/12 – adding to their forward options from Corinthian.

Gareth Watkins is closing in on a return from the broken foot that ruled him out of the key phases of last season while Kyle Good adds to the forward options. On the debit side, Richard Sykes is on Erasmus in Germany for six months while Eoin O’Connor is set to travel to the US to work. David Cole can step into the drag-flicking role with Watkins in his trademark left-switch role to assuage Sykes’ bullet corners.

Mark Ingram’s departure to Pembroke has been eased by Craig Ellis’ return though Dave Fitzgerald dons the number one jersey when Ireland duty does not impinge. Graham Shaw has the coach’s clipboard and, without playing duties, can provide a focus to moulding this side into a title-winning one. Their Achilles heel last term, quit literally, was a lengthy injury list at key times while increased international duties for some of the above as well as Stephen Cole could take a toll but it is hard to look past the Town as league favourites.

Preseason has seen a few blips, drawing with Three Rock and losing to an upwardly mobile UCD last weekend but their first three games can go a long way to establishing their credentials with three big tests.

Early season fixtures First Leinster league games: Railway Union (a), Sept 15; Glenanne (h), Sept 22; TRR (h), Sept 23

Twitter: @MonkstownHockey
Prediction: 1st

Men's Leinster Senior Div 1