Saturday offers a day with plenty of movement possible in the men’s EY Hockey League table with all matches pitting sides in similar areas of the table against each other.
Indeed, the top four face off with new leaders Lisnagarvey hosting Three Rock Rovers while Monkstown play Banbridge in a repeat of last spring’s IHL final. Garvey have been hugely impressive since losing on day two of the season, running up five wins on the spin to rise above Monkstown last weekend.Last season, they fell 4-2 in this fixture against Rovers but the chief destroyers from that tie – Jonny Bruton and Mitch Darling – have since moved on while the hosts have bolstered considerably.
Neal Glassey has been hugely influential in adding an energetic and combative presence. At the back, Jonny Bell and Paul Gleghorne make for a quality defensive duo while Sean Murray has emerged to become one of the league’s top performers to date.
Rovers 4-3 win over Cork C of I was uncharacteristic in comparison to the rest of their games this season which have seen them keep things tight at the back but they added corner accuracy to their armoury to run up the win.
Key for them this season has been the defensive work of Luke Madeley, David Kane and Garry Ringwood while Jamie Carr is having a fine season between the posts.
At the Merrion Fleet Arena, Monkstown will look to bounce back after their 3-2 loss against Glenanne against a Banbridge side that has not hit full fluidity just yet.
Usually one of the freest of scorers, Bann have struggled to put away their chances of late. Eugene Magee dug them out of a hole a week ago with a late goal after Cookstown frustrated them for long periods. Similarly, in the 0-0 draw against Rovers, chances came and went.
Nonetheless, they have shown plenty of fight to grab late points with goals in the closing stages of ties against Cookstown and Pembroke, their strength of will in those games keeping them in touch with the leaders.
Town’s form had otherwise imperious before their loss to the Glens and so it will be interesting to see how they bounce back against a side they have had the Indian sign over for the past few seasons.
For Joe Brennan’s Glens, three wins from four had lifted them away from a perilous start to the campaign into a much happier frame of mind. Those results have lifted them above Pembroke, Saturday’s opponents, who have dropped to eighth place.
Alan Sothern is rested as a precautionary measure following his collision that required an ambulance against Railway Union last weekend.
Railway Union will hope to improve on their disciplinary record that saw them short-handed for an incredible 24 minutes last week against Pembroke, something which slowed their momentum hugely. Cork C of I are back on the road to Dublin for this tie, looking to end a run of four games without a win.
At the bottom, Annadale host Cookstown. Both have been cut adrift and so a victory is vital for both in closing the gap to their rivals.
In Leinster, Avoca produced a big performance to beat Fingal 4-2 on Thursday evening with Richard Couse scoring twice with Elliott Goode and Daire Hibbert also on the mark.
The result puts them into fifth place on their own ahead of the north Dublin side who have a tough derby match on Saturday against Clontarf to keep their chances of a top five berth alive. For Avoca, they can potentially get over the line with a win over Corinthian.
Dublin University need to get a result against Rathgar if they are to harbour ambitions of a place in the top five. YMCA – for whom Thom Ritchie returned to Australia this week – host Kilkenny who need to win both of their remaining matches and hope other results go their way if they are to threaten the top five.
Men’s EY Hockey League (Saturday): Annadale v Cookstown, 2.30pm, Lough Moss; Railway Union v Cork C of I, 2.30pm, Park Avenue; Lisnagarvey v Three Rock Rovers, 3pm, Comber Road; Monkstown v Banbridge, 3pm, Merrion Fleet Arena; Pembroke v Glenanne, 4pm, Serpentine Avenue
Leinster Division One
Thursday: Avoca 4 (R Couse 2, D Hibbert, E Goode) Fingal 2
Saturday: Fingal v Clontarf, 1pm, NSC; YMCA v Kilkenny, 2.15pm, Wesley College; Corinthian v Avoca, 2.30pm, Whitechurch Park; Rathgar v Dublin University, 4pm, High School