Railway Union’s aspirations of breaking into Leinster’s top three will be put to the test this Saturday as they look to grab a result against national champs Monkstown.
With a number of high quality additions, including Spanish player Miguel Villar, goalkeeper Craig Ellis and Ravin Nair, they blew away Avoca and Glenanne while a second half comeback against Corinthian from 2-0 down showed their mettle.Australian James Dick scored twice last weekend to add an extra weight to their forward line. It means they destined to finish in the top four but whether they can move to the next level will depend on whether they can notch results against the likes of Pembroke, TRR and Monkstown this season.
On opening day against Pembroke, they created more of the chances but were sucker-punched twice while spurning a number of good chances.
Monkstown are playing their last competitive game before travelling to the Euro Hockey League on the weekend of October 11 and will be looking to peak. Peter Caruth has yet to feature this season but they have been in rude goalscoring form, running up 17 goals to date.
Kenny Carroll will need to be at his best to keep their attack at bay in what looks the pick of the weekend’s games.
Next best could be the derby game between Corinthian and Three Rock at Whitechurch Park, a tie that has seen widely swinging fortunes between the clubs in recent years.
Under Trevor Dagg, a much changed Corinthian have been an exceptionally hard-working side to date in the campaign but succumbed to both Monkstown and Railway last weekend.
Former Rover Gordon Elliott is now in red and could meet his former club if he has recovered from injury sustained against UCD but, barring Garry Ringwood, it is not likely he will be taking on any of his former team mates.
Rovers have employed a young panel this season so far but Peter Blakeney, Jonny Bruton and Mitch Darling – as well as Ali Haughton – could feature in tandem for the first time after missing games early this term.
Which YMCA turns up for their game against Avoca will determine how their trip to Newpark pans out. The Y were impressive on the first weekend before losing their cutting edge for their third and fourth games.
Against Pembroke, their shooting sticks deserted them despite holding plenty of pressure and lots of corners. A day later, they also had late corner chances to earn something against Glenanne but a blank from close to ten corners over the weekend left them with nothing to show for their efforts.
Avoca defended resolutely against Rovers with Ziggy Agnew at the heart of things while Seb Perciavalle made some big stops. With Andrew Ramsay potentially returning, it will bolster their chances of nicking a goal on the counter.Glenanne take on Rathgar on home turf, looking to build on their opening win of the campaign last Sunday at YMCA. Lukasz Domachowski was a big factor in that, powerfully keeping out two final quarter corners to show his worth since arriving from Poland via the Netherlands.
David Keogh under-pinned their defence while Sam O’Connor’s distribution means they can counter quickly but whether he can pick holes in the Chiefs’ half court setup will be tricky.
Rathgar almost nabbed their biggest ever result before succumbing to Tim Hill’s last gasp winner last Sunday. After a chastening defeat against UCD, it shows they can cause trouble for sides but four losses from four has them in trouble once again.
UCD, meanwhile, will hope to nick a result against Pembroke, a side with whom they have exchanged a lot of players in recent years. Kirk Shimmins’ return to the students is a big addition after his time in New Zealand and his battle with Nick Burns could be mighty.
George Dagg could well be tasked with shutting down Maurice Elliott who has started the season in exceptional fashion in another tussle between former team mates.
Division two tips off on Saturday, too, with Pembroke II probably big favourites with Clontarf likely to cause them the most upset this season.
Pembroke overcame some early mixed results to build a winning streak that ran into double figures. Justin Sherriff has moved up to work with the first team with Paidi Carley and Michiel Tijs running the bench while an influx of players to the first team means they have options.
Scott Furlong was their key figure last season and if they have access to him, his corner goals and midfield runs will be an excellent option. They start with a tie against Three Rock Rovers II who are coached by Ian Clarke this season and will be looking to bring on their young charges, guided by Peter McConnell and Alan Bothwell.
Clontarf impressed last weekend with victory in the Neville Davin Cup. Rob Kelly and Luke Hayden’s return to the club from Fingal is a big boost while Kevin and John Mullins are excellent young players who will make an impact.
Fingal are the big unknown but have Eamonn Bane back after some injury-plagued seasons but may struggle to get all their players available at the same time due to outside commitments.
With Craig Ellis, Kelly, Hayden and Paddy Gahan (Glenanne) among those to move on, they are much changed but have a decent amount of division one experience at their disposal.
Suttonians are shy Mick McGuinnes and Keith O’Hare from last season and so could see their top half ambitions stunted. Updated Leinster registration regulations may have an impact in this league with second teams less able to double-up and it is hoped this will level the playing field somewhat.
Railway Union II look to have built a good team based on the Neville Davin and have a tester down in Kilkenny while Corinthian II are the other side coming up, hosting Fingal first up.
Men’s Leinster Division One (Saturday): Monkstown vs Railway Union, 1.30pm, Rathdown; Avoca vs YMCA, 2pm, Newpark; Glenanne vs Rathgar, 2pm, Glenanne Park; Corinthian vs Three Rock Rovers, 2.15pm, Whitechurch Park; UCD vs Pembroke, 2.30pm, Belfield
Division Two: Clontarf vs Monkstown II, 12.30pm, Mount Temple; Kilkenny vs Railway Union II, 1pm, Kilkenny College; Suttonians vs YMCA II, 1pm, Sutton Park; Pembroke II vs TRR II, 2pm, Serpentine Avenue; Corinthian II vs Fingal, 3.45pm, Whitechurch Park