Central protagonists Monkstown and Pembroke face double test

Men’s Division One preview – words by Jack McCann
After last weekend saw the race for IHL places close significantly, round 12 of men’s Leinster division one offers yet another set of potential twists and turns with key games between a number of the central protagonists. Monkstown and Pembroke have double weekends with their back match on Sunday a potentially pivotal in the title race.

On Saturday, they both face contenders keen to stay in touch of the top four, meeting Corinthian and YMCA respectively in ties which could either lengthen or shorten the gap.

Pembroke's Mick O'Connor takes on YMCA's Rob Anderson Pic: Adrian Boehm

Pembroke’s Mick O’Connor takes on YMCA’s Rob Anderson Pic: Adrian Boehm

In Alexandra College on Saturday, the Y will be hoping they can extend their unbeaten league run to four games, which has included big wins over Three Rock and Railway.

The Y will look to close the gap on their opponents who are three places and four points above them, in what is becoming an ever increasingly tight battle. Jacques Odendaal has returned to South Africa but Kurt Hensburg came in to good effect with a goal on debut via a deflected corner.

Pembroke on the other hand will look to bounce back from their 3-2 loss away to Three Rock in a game where they were unable to get their counter attack fully operational. Harry Spain and Mark Ingram will be key figures in their two games this weekend

In the last game of the day, first takes on seventh as Monkstown face Corinthian in Rathdown. Town enter the game off the back of a thumping 7-0 victory over Avoca, with Richard Sykes and Gareth Watkins both getting a brace against the Blackrock side.

Karl Smith and Conor Moyter are both going to have to be at the top of their game at the back for the Reds to keep tabs on two of the top scorers in the league thus far this season, limiting corner openings for Sykes.

They have already beaten Town this term, though, in the cups. This will be a big examination of Corinthian’s credentials and how far they have come so far under Trevor Dagg this season.

The first game of the weekend is a basement battle as ninth placed Rathgar take on eighth placed UCD in The High School at 12.30pm. Heading into the last part of the season, both these teams along with Avoca will be battling it out to see who goes down automatically, who has to face a play-off and who will be save for another season.

The last time these teams meet in the league the students came out on top in a 4-3 win, they’ll be hoping for a similar result and hope that Kirk Shimmins can continue to play as well as he has for College all season in the middle of the pitch.

However, they face a Chiefs side who can cause, and have caused, many problems for the likes of Three Rock and Pembroke among others, losing by just a single goal.

College will have to hope that the likes of Shane Madeley can add to his eight goals so far this season and that Conor Quinn can continue his good form between the sticks for the students in what has been a tricky season thus far compared to previous ones after their large turnover of players.

Railway take on an Avoca side still looking for only their second win in the division after picking up their first one against UCD back at the end of 2014.

Railway, along with YM and Corinthian are all on 18 points, a win against the basement team in the Division will do the green and yellow men the world of good in their battle for an IHL spot.

Rathgar and Corinthian are both facing important games Pic: Adrian Boehm

Rathgar and Corinthian are both facing important games Pic: Adrian Boehm

Avoca will hope the get something out of the game and hope that other results go their way to as they aim to get off the bottom for the first time this season. However, getting anything out of this game will be hard as the last time these teams met in the league, Railway came out comfortable 7-1 winners.

Up at Grange Road, Three Rock Rovers will want to win to keep the pressure on Town and Pembroke but face a huge test from a Glenanne side keen to get back on track after a frustrating loss to Railway Union.

Rovers will draw confidence from seeing off Pembroke in a tight game last Saturday and full in the knowledge that the last time these teams meet in the league Rovers ran out 3-0 winners.

Glenanne will look to bounce back from their narrow loss to Railway last weekend and make a statement of intent by getting a win that could potentially lift them up to second in the table were results to go their way.

Division Two sees leaders Monkstown II face a tough trip to ALSAA to take on Fingal while chasers TRR II host Corinthian II looking to keep just about in touch ahead of a double-weekend on the near horizon.

Mens Leinster Division One, Saturday: Rathgar v UCD, 12.30pm, The High School; YMCA v Pembroke Wanderers, 1.30pm, Alexandra College; Railway Union v Avoca, 3pm, Park Avenue; Three Rock Rovers v Glenanne, 3pm, Grange Road; Monkstown v Corinthians, 4pm, Rathdown School.
Sunday: Monkstown v Pembroke Wanderers, 12pm, Rathdown School.

Division Two: Three Rock Rovers II v Corinthian II, 1pm, Grange Road; YMCA II v Kilkenny, 3pm, Milltown; Railway Union II v Clontarf, 4.30pm, Park Avenue; Fingal v Monkstown II, 12pm, ALSAA

Men's Leinster Senior Div 1