EHL journey begins for Irish contingent in Barcelona

The London move has seen Irish involvement boom in the EuroHockey League with seven players in contention to take part in this year’s edition of the marquee club event.

Indeed, as of 10.30am this morning, Geoff McCabe and Mikey Watt are looking well set for a place in the KO16 after they helped new club Surbiton to a 5-0 win over Austria’s SV Arminen.

Geoff McCabe, second from left, helped Surbiton make a winning start in the EHL this morning Pic: David Kissman

Watt fired home a delicious reverse-stick effort in that tie and the comprehensive success means his side could well be through to the next round by the time they play their next game against Polo de Barcelona on Sunday.

The much travelled duo arrived south-west London club after a number of years on the road. Watt’s university career took him to Grange in Scotland before moving to Dragons in Antwerp with McCabe and then on to RS Tenis in Spain.

McCabe stayed there for another season while Watt moved to SCHC last term before both went on the job hunt, ending up in the English capital.

Of the Irish involved in the EHL, Ian Horsfield is the third player who could take the field this weekend, his Kelburne outfit meeting a star-studded Oranje Zwart at 1.30pm this afternoon.

The former Monkstown first team skipper moved to Scotland for work reasons in 2009 though there are suggestions he could be returning to Dublin in the near future.

Former Cookstown man David Ames will line out for Beeston at 11am against tournament debutants Cardiff and Met.

In a fortnight’s time, meanwhile, four more Irish internationals will take the field in the second tranche of group games in Lille. John Jackson moved from Braxgata to play with the Berkshire outfit Reading.

He joins long-standing Ding club man Chris Cargo while Tim Lewis has moved south from Beeston.

David Harte, meanwhile, probably represents the best Irish chance of winning gold in the competition as net-minder for Utrecht-side Kampong.

On the domestic front, fourth play fifth when Glenanne meet Railway Union in a battle between two upwardly mobile sides looking to break back into the top half on a permanent basis.

Ian Horsfield in action for Kelburne against Pembroke in the EHL Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek

Ian Horsfield in action for Kelburne against Pembroke in the EHL Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek

Returning king Gary Shaw provided a big psychological boost for the Glens along with the close range finish for all three points against UCD. But, more than that, their performance in nullifying a talented young outfit with lofty ambitions was the big plus for Alan Browne’s Glens.

Stephen Brownlow led them in style while Stu Ronan’s unorthodox skills are proving a handful for many a defence to date. Railway are without Mark English due to a broken hand while they also have doubts over Donal O’Mearain with a similar injury.

English had been one of their primary forward spearheads – only him, Rob Abbott and Peter English had scored in their first three and a half league games – but in his absence, they managed to conjure five goals in 13 minutes.

Overlapping Richard Forrest and Jake Morton’s direct running mean that they now have more points of attack to focus on for this key date.

Elsewhere, Corinthian and UCD will be looking to kickstart their campaigns at Whitechurch Park after slightly indifferent results. For the students, they have yet to start winning corners in big numbers, something from which they can be lethal with Shane O’Donoghue netting just once to date.

Ian Stewart has proven dangerous this term for the reds while Matt Fairweather’s flicking is also a strong threat for the students.

Monkstown will expect to have too much for YMCA, especially with David Fitzgerald back between the posts. The Y have Richie Pedreschi back in the mix but Ben Chadwick picked up six stitches in last week’s draw with Fingal and so is a doubt.

Rathgar hope to have Josh Purcell and Johnny Walker back for an imposing date with Pembroke who need to be wary of Lennart Bakker’s threat. Fingal, meanwhile face Three Rock at ALSAA hoping they can build on their promising start to the season.

Josh Purcell could return for Rathgar Pic: Francis Foyle

Josh Purcell could return for Rathgar Pic: Francis Foyle

In division two, Kilkenny have three straight 4-1 wins under their belt with Alastair MacLeod a revelation for them. The Zimbabwean has given them a big corner threat and plenty of zip in midfield to take to a YM side hoping to bounce back with the return of a number of players.

Last time out, they were without Michael Sleeman, Charlie Carroll and Mark Jenkinson among others due to a wedding and were burned 4-0 by Three Rock.

Rovers play Monkstown II at Grange Road looking to build on that encouraging performance against a youthful Town side with Shane Nolan, Rob Mason, Dan Poff and Keith Kenning providing the experience.

Clontarf and Dublin University both look for their first win of the campaign at Mount Temple, Stephen Ludgate hoping the Trin can get one over on his former club.

Men’s Leinster Division One: Rathgar v Pembroke Wanderers, 12.30pm, The High School; Corinthian v UCD, 1.30pm, Whitechurch Park; Fingal v Three Rock Rovers, 1pm, ALSAA; Glenanne v Railway Union, 1pm, Glenanne Park; Monkstown v YMCA, 1.30pm, Rathdown

Division Two: YMCA II v Kilkenny, 12.30pm, Claremont Road; Clontarf v Dublin University, 1pm, Mount Temple; Three Rock Rovers II v Monkstown II, 3pm, Grange Road; Avoca vs Suttonians, 12.15pm, Newpark

Irish Hockey Trophy, round one: Campbellians v Weston, 1.45pm, Campbellians

Mills Cup, first round (Sunday): Kilkenny vs Suttonians, 3pm, Kilkenny College; UCD vs Weston, 2pm, Belfield; Avoca v Corinthian, 3.45pm, Newpark; Railway Union v Pembroke, 8pm Tuesday, Park Avenue; Rathgar v Dublin University, 1pm, High School; Fingal v YMCA, 2.30pm, ALSAA; Glenanne v Monkstown, 1pm; Clontarf v Three Rock Rovers, 1pm, Mount Temple

Men's Leinster Senior Div 1