The helter-skelter men’s season provides another pivotal weekend in which the Leinster league champions could well be crowned while six local sides battle it out in the Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals.
It means yet another double weekend for Monkstown for the third time in succession though whether they will mind too much if they can get the better of Banbridge on Saturday and land the league on Sunday against Glenanne.That Saturday quarter-final against Bann, a repeat of last year’s Irish Hockey League final, is without doubt the marquee game of the weekend.
The Co Down side built up to the game with a thumping 9-1 win over Belfast Harlequins with Irish internationals Bruce McCandless and Eugene Magee battering hat tricks but they are likely to be without Owen Magee for the trip to Rathdown. Matthew Bell has recently returned to action.
Their concerns, though, are more likely to be at the far end as they look to tame a forward line that is averaging over four goals a game this season. With Gareth Watkins on form and the likes of Kyle Good, Davy Carson and a rejuvenated Andrew Ward buzzing off him, their front line is formidable with Stephen Cole and Nick Dee pulling the strings further back.
Their speed on the turnover was a sight to behold last Sunday against Three Rock and any Banbridge dawdling could be swiftly punished but they certainly have the tools to punish any similar indiscretions from the sky-blue back four. The Town continue to be without David Cole who has missed the majority of the campaign.
The other cross-border tie sees Glenanne travel up to record winners Lisnagarvey who are seeking their first Irish Senior Cup title in nine years. The Comber Road side have a doubt over Daniel Buser with a hip injury and will meet a Glenanne side in decent shape, coming in off the back of two big league wins that have put them back in the frame for an IHL spot.
It will give them quiet confidence of causing an upset against the Ulster Premier leaders with a number of their young charges – like Sam O’Connor and David O’Malley – picking up representative honours in recent weeks. Gary Shaw, meanwhile, has been inspired since his return.
Elsewhere, there are two Dublin derbies. For Pembroke, their body clocks is now running at seven games in 15 days of an exacting schedule. They go to Corinthian on Saturday for their Senior Cup tie with the reds hoping to repeat their 3-1 Mills Cup victory at the same stage of that competition.
Matt Brown, Gowan Jones, Jethro Eustice and coach Brendon Carolan come up against their former club and will be keen to build on last Sunday’s win over Railway Union, ending a tough run of results.
Three Rock, meanwhile, travel to Fingal having beaten the ALSAA men twice by six goals this term. The hosts, however, will draw on the experience of staying scoreless – and arguably creating the better chances – in the first half when they met at the airport earlier this term.Rovers will be without Huub de With, a star midfield performer this season, for the foreseeable future as he returns to the Netherlands while Luke Madeley picked up a nasty head wound while captaining the Wesley rugby team this week which could delay his return.
On Sunday, Monkstown complete their Leinster league programme with a Sunday evening trip to Glenanne with a victory ensuring their first title since 1982. It could render Three Rock Rovers’ away tie against YMCA at Milltown – the venues swapped earlier this season – moot.
Pembroke will also finish their season on Sunday as they play Railway Union who have a double league weekend, meeting UCD on Saturday. A win for the students in that game will put them out of range of Railway in the race for an Irish Hockey League place, something that Rory O’Donoghue’s side can subsequently pin down on Sunday against Rathgar.
The Chiefs fell 4-1 to YMCA on Tuesday in what was probably their best chance of earning a point to draw level with Fingal in ninth place. Ben Campbell struck twice in the second half to swing the tie away from Rathgar after Andrew Meates and Richard Pedreschi had cancelled out a Dan Needham effort.
They have ties against Railway and Three Rock to try and find a result to get them ahead of Fingal who meet Corinthian in their last game of the season.
Men’s Irish Senior Cup, quarter-finals
Saturday: Corinthian vs Pembroke, 1pm, Whitechurch Park; Fingal vs Three Rock Rovers, 1pm, ALSAA; Lisnagarvey vs Glenanne, 2.45pm, Comber Road; Monkstown vs Banbridge, 2.45pm, Rathdown
Tuesday: Rathgar 1 (D Needham) YMCA 4 (B Campbell 2, R Pedreschi, A Meates)
Saturday: UCD vs Railway Union, 4.15pm, Belfield
Sunday: Rathgar vs Rathgar, 1pm, High School; Railway Union vs Pembroke, 1.30pm, Park Avenue; YMCA vs TRR, 3.40pm, Milltown; Glenanne vs Monkstown, 4.30pm, Glenanne Park
Saturday: YMCA II vs Suttonians, 3.30pm, Claremont Road; Kilkenny vs Clontarf, 2.30pm, Kilkenny College
Sunday: Weston vs TRR II, 1pm, Griffeen Valley Park; Pembroke II vs Dublin University, 3pm, Serpentine Avenue; Avoca vs Clontarf, 4.30pm, Newpark; Monkstown II vs Kilkenny, 4.30pm, Rathdown