Pembroke’s date with Cookstown at the recently renamed Steelweld Park in Coolnafranky – following a naming agreement earlier this week – underpins who will take second place from Pool A.
Monkstown’s serene progress through the group stages sees them able to shuffle their deck should they wish when they meet Annadale in Tallaght. Andy Smyth’s side have an outside chance of making it through should they win but they are reliant on Pembroke doing them some sort of favour.
The Leinster champions themselves require a five goal win over their Co Tyrone hosts making it a fanciful trip north in their bid to extend their season.
But with Alan Sothern already past the 50 goal mark for the club season, they have the firepower to give the reds a scare. Cookstown, though, have looked a well rounded outfit with Andy Barbour, Ian Hughes and Godfrey Irwin’s experience dovetailing well with a youthful element of which Matthew Rollins is exemplary.
Instonians and Cork Harlequins battle it out to avoid the wooden spoon with Quins needing a three-goal winning margin to get off the bottom. Keeper Chris Daunt is unavailable this weekend so they welcome promising 16-year old Jack Ryan into the fold to make his first team debut. They will be hoping for a confidence boost ahead of their impending European venture to Vienna.
In Pool B, there is just one match of consequence with all eyes again on Coolnafranky for the late game. YMCA need a three-goal win over Lisnagarvey in a repeat of last year’s final. The Y are without key man Krystian Makowski, though, as he links up with the Polish national team ahead of their World League round two event in Paris which gets underway within a fortnight.
It leaves them shy their top scorer and a drag-flicking option, putting more of the onus on the likes of Jonny Bruton and Richie Pedreschi while they will need Iain Walker to continue his immaculate form at the far end.
Banbridge are the second team guaranteed a place in the final’s weekend, and they face a Glenanne side with little to play for other than getting off bottom place. Steven Dowds is in fine goal-scoring form so Glenanne will need to be aware of his drag flicking abilities come Saturday.
The two sides met at the same time last year (IHL Round 5) also in Glenanne Park with Glenanne winning 4-0. The circumstances for that game were remarkably similar with Glenanne already out of the competition and Banbridge still in contention. The loss to Lisnagarvey last weekend means Glenanne will finish with their lowest ever IHL points total.
Fourth place Cork C of I play fifth place Railway Union in Cork, with both teams little to play for in the final round of their respective IHL campaigns. Railway, though, have a Neville Cup final to look forward to following their midweek win over YMCA. They will meet Pembroke who shaded their date with UCD 2-1.
In Grange Road, meanwhile, the junior interprovincials take centre stage. Hosts Leinster will be hoping to retain the title they won last year. The Avoca duo of Nigel Kingston and Ian Wilkie run the side with the latter confident his side can do the business at the weekend.
“We again have a strong team this year with good representation from around the province, led by John Lazenby for the second time and assisted by Gareth Borland. We have no real injury worries to speak of so should have a fit squad for the weekend.
“Coach Nigel Kingston has worked them hard this week and they are starting to gel well. Young guys to look out for are Iain Styles and Frankie Fennell, with Tom Noonan looking sharp too.”
The side, though, is short of some potential Rathgar Chiefs and Kilkenny players who opted out of the panel after the Neville Davin Cup final was set for the same day. They meet also in Grange Road with a 5pm tip off.
Men’s Irish Hockey League
Pool A: Cookstown vs Pembroke, 2pm, Steelweld Park Coolnafranky; Monkstown vs Annadale, 2pm, Glennane Park; Cork Harlequins vs Instonians, 2pm, Farmer’s Cross
Pool B: Lisnagarvey vs YMCA, 4pm, Steelweld Park Coolnafranky; Glenanne vs Banbridge, 4pm, Glenanne Park; Cork C of I vs Railway Union, 4pm, Farmer’s Cross
Junior Interprovincial schedule (all in Grange Road)
Saturday: Munster vs Leinster, 9.30am; Leinster vs Connacht, 1pm; Ulster vs Munster, 2.45pm
Sunday: Connacht vs Ulster, 9am; Munster vs Connacht, 12.30pm; Leinster vs Ulster, 2.15pm
Neville Davin Cup final: Rathgar vs Clontarf, 5pm, Grange Road
Leinster men’s junior squad for this weekend’s interpros: Stephen Cairns (Clontarf), Chris Doyle (Bray), Gareth Borland (Clontarf), Sean Brennan (Bray), Eric Comerford (Kilkenny), John Elliott (Pembroke), Benjamin Epstein (Three Rock Rovers), Frankie Fennell (Pembroke), Doug Good (Pembroke), Peter Hinds (Three Rock Rovers), Cian Hussey (Bray), John Lazenby (Kilkenny), Rob Kelly (Clontarf), Ciaran McNamara (Clontarf), Tom Noonan (Clontarf), Ian Styles (Pembroke), Michael Tijs (Pembroke), David Wilson (Pembroke)
Coach: Nigel Kingston
Manager: Ian Wilkie