Following the conclusion of the senior season, the Irish Junior Cup and Masters Interprovincials take centre stage this weekend with four Leinster clubs gunning for national success in the former.
On the men’s side, Three Rock Rovers – last champions in 1998 – taking on Annadale while Lisnagarvey face 2013 winners Monkstown.Rovers are likely to feature the experienced Alan Bothwell and Peter McConnell who helped the club win the Senior Cup a year ago. Dale, meanwhile, can potentially call on a couple of former internationals to mix with their young up and coming side.
Both finished in their upper echelons of their provincial leagues with Rovers finishing second in division two while Annadale ended third in Ulster’s Junior 1, making this a well-matched tie.
The fixture has been moved back an hour to 3pm to allow time for players to attend the funeral of Wesley College’s coach and hockey co-ordinator par excellence Ruth Henderson – whose children are former Three Rock members – earlier in the day.
Lisnagarvey have an illustrious panel to hand with Mark Raphael and John Gray famous names from the past while Monkstown are the form side, having reached three of the last five finals.
The two sides are the respective winners of their domestic leagues, making this a real clash of the Titans. Garvey will need to be wary of Rory Nichols’ corner strikes while they have a wealth of young players from the St Andrew’s treble winning side in their panel who can cause damage with their pace.
On the women’s side, Railway Union – captained by Nikita Telford in place of regular skipper Ruth Clifford – make the long trip down to Bandon looking to progress their hopes.
The 2011 champions have plenty of experienced mixed with youth with Karen Clarke and Karen Morrissey key among them while a whole string of young players have been incorporated into the team as time has gone on this term.
Leinster division two champions Pembroke will hope to go one better than last year and land the double having missed out to UCD a year ago. Their semi-final opposition is Queen’s University, the Ulster Junior One champions.
Meanwhile, the Masters Interpros are also taking place in Lisnagarvey Hockey Club in Ulster this weekend. With the sun forecast to shine, the number of teams and schedule should make for a competitive and enjoyable hockey spectacle.
Indeed, 19 teams are taking part this year in 30 matches. The men have three sections: O-40s (four teams), O-50s (four teams) and O-55s (three teams). The women have two pools: O-40s (four teams) and O-45s (four teams).
For the first time, Leinster women are fielding three teams: O-40s, O-45s and O-50s. The O-40s will face Connacht on Saturday morning and Munster on Saturday afternoon. They play Ulster at 2pm on Sunday.
Guy Garrett coaches the Leinster O-40s with Lorna Bagnall captaining and Clara Chamberlayne as vice captain. Gillian Garrett is a stand out performer in midfield but there is quality throughout the pitch as a number of players new to masters hockey join experienced performers.
The Leinster O-45s and O-50s will play in the same pool, creating some local rivalry. On Friday evening the 50s play Ulster 45s at 7pm with the 45s playing Munster 45s at 9pm.
The next day sees the derby match with the Leinster 45s and 50s playing each other at high noon. On Sunday, the Leinster 50s play Munster 45s at 1pm with the Leinster 45s playing Ulster 45s at the same time on the other pitch.Gordon Watkins coaches the 45s with Kathryn Henderson captaining and Paula O’Donoghue as vice captain. To ensure a full squad, the Leinster 45s are supplemented by some players from the 40s category who have not yet reached 45! Alison Pigot, who initiated women’s master hockey five years ago, plays in this squad.
The Leinster 50s is coached by Ben Epstein, captained by Helen Johnston, with Joanne O’Grady as vice captain. This is mainly an experienced squad but with newcomers Sheelagh Griffin and Joy Godlkin along with Dee Reid, supplementing from the O-40s. Orla Galvin manages this squad.
In addition, Lisnagarvey’s men’s firsts will play the Brazilian national team on Saturday evening at 8pm while the Masters Hockey players enjoy a hog roast.
On Sunday morning the Garvey Tots – the next generation of hockey players – take to the pitch; players from age six to 60 playing hockey in Lisnagarvey this weekend!
Fixtures (all Saturday)
Irish Junior Cup, semi-finals: Three Rock Rovers vs Annadale, 3pm, Grange Road; Lisnagarvey vs Monkstown, 2.30pm, Comber Road
Irish Junior Cup, semi-finals: Bandon vs Railway Union, 1pm, Bandon GS; Pembroke vs Queen’s, 1pm, Serpentine Avenue
Leinster O-40s: Mary Harkin, Brenda Barrett, Clara Chamberlayne (VC), Kerry Johnson, Noreen Dockery, Suzanne Davis, Emma Curry, Gillian Garrett, Hazel Agar, Lorna Bagnall (C), Aisling Sherriff, Ali Farrell, Mairead D’Arcy, Nikki McMullan, Sarah Scott.
Leinster O-45s: Catherine Quirke GK (withdrawn), Aisling Field, Alison Pigot, Paula O’Donoghue (VC), Sarah Kavanagh, Sharon Burke, Kate Turley, Kathryn Henderson (C), Rhona Walsh, Aisling Schutte, Emma Meir, Grainne Millar, Hilary Long, Kathy O’Toole, Caroline Sharkey.
Leinster O-50s: Sinead Guilfoyle GK, Dee Mooney, Helen Johnston (C), Linda Jenkinson, Bronwyn O’Donnell, Maura O’Neill, Sue Vincent, Roly Burke, Jane Salter, Joanne O’Grady (VC), Marian O’Brien, Anne Kirwan, Sheelagh Griffin, Joy Godkin, Dee Reid.