Over a dozen members of the extended Irish men’s panel will lock horns in the marquee men’s EY Hockey League clash between Lisnagarvey and Monkstown at Comber Road tomorrow.
Last Sunday’s Portrane pitch opening – effectively a training match featuring the domestic based Irish senior squad – saw both sides hugely represented with Garvey having five players lining out.
Among them was Neal Glassey who netted on his club debut a day earlier for the blues. He has joined a panel that also features Timmy Cockram and talented youngsters James Lorimer, Sean Murray and Matthew Nelson.
Paul Gleghorne missed that challenge match but did recover from his shoulder injury sustained in the European Championships to play in the big 3-2 win at a fancied Pembroke side last Saturday.
They have another big fight on their hands on home turf against Monkstown.The three in-a-row national champions were also heavily represented with seven of their current panel in situ along with new coach Jonny Caren.
It shows the quality set to be on display in the marquee match of day two of the league and one which will give another good indication of where both sides are at this fledgling stage in the season.
Railway Union face IHL finalists on home turf for the second week running, hoping to get something tangible from their tie against Banbridge after a near miss against Monkstown.
The Dublin 4 club were stung by two goals in the last eight minutes after a fine backs to the wall performance. They were indebted to Stephen O’Keeffe for keeping them in the game for so long as he made a plethora of fine stops.
The tie saw Matt Bretherton make his debut for the club since moving from Australia but a quartet of others have not yet arrived in the country from the southern hemisphere including new signings Nick Tate – a fine indoor player – and David Richardson.
Ravin Nair and James Dick were also in Australia over the summer and missed last weekend. Last year’s IHL meeting between the sides saw Mark English give Railway a lead they held until deep into the second half before Bann evenutally prevailed 3-1.
Glenanne host their first EYHL game when Cork C of I come visiting looking to find some more bite to their front line having struggled for momentum last time out against Three Rock.
Eddie O’Malley missed that tie but could return to bring his fox-in-the-box style skills to the tie. Last week, the Glens did not concede a corner and that will be another target against a C of I side that proved dangerous from their set-pieces with John Jermyn very much a menace.
Rovers, for their part, are on the road up to Belfast to play Annadale at Queen’s, part of an innovative double-header after the Pegasus-Pembroke tie at the same venue.
It is a tie that will feature two of the youngest sides in the competition with half of Rovers panel under 21. Midfield is their key with the dynamism of Jody Hosking, Daragh Walsh and Luke Chadwick a big part in getting them moving.
It allows Peter Blakeney an opportunity to appear in all manner of places while Harry Morris set up three goals last time around with his forceful running.
But they meet an Annadale side who have a similarly strong developmental outlook. Michael Robson is the star man and, fresh from the Irish U-18s, Peter McKibbin looks a really solid rock at the back.
Pembroke are on the road to Cookstown looking to bounce back to their opening day loss. Steelweld is the scene of their most famous recent wins with Paddy Conlon stepping in between the posts after Mark Ingram was forced off injury when a ball got lodged under the jaw protector.
Playing without a padded keeper, they managed to hold on for well over half an hour for a big win. He has had a few injury worries this week but is named in the panel to travel north.
On the domestic front, YMCA face Rathgar in a battle between two of last year’s Leinster Division One sides. The Y were comfortable winners a week ago but face a side that fronted up defensively well against UCD and have been bouyed by Alan Browne’s recent arrival as coach. Ed Lawler remains out for YMCA with an arm injury for the timebeing.
Corinthian face a tricky trip down to Kilkenny who showed an immense appetite to comeback against Fingal a week ago. David McClure made an instant impact on his return from UCD while former Railway and Suttonians man Reuben Holden also weighed in.
They will look to make things difficult for the reds who made a confident opening step in beating Dublin University a week ago.
Clontarf will look to back up their important win over Avoca when they host Weston. Each of UCD and Fingal as well as Dublin Uni and Avoca will be looking to land their first win of the campaign.
Men’s EY Hockey League (Saturday): Railway Union v Banbridge, 2.30pm, Park Avenue; Glenanne v Cork C of I, 3pm, Glenanne Park; Lisnagarvey v Monkstown, 3pm, Comber Road; Annadale v Three Rock Rovers, 4pm, Queen’s; Cookstown v Pembroke, 4pm, Steelweld Park
Leinster Division One: Clontarf v Weston, 11.45am, Mount Temple; Kilkenny v Corinthian, 12.30pm, Kilkenny College; Dublin University v Avoca, 1pm, Santry Avenue; UCD v Fingal, 1pm, Belfield; YMCA v Rathgar, 4pm, Wesley College