It’s derby day across the island with three in-province showdowns taking place in the men’s EY Hockey League with Glenanne and Three Rock Rovers meeting in a key game in the playoff race.
Rovers won the first two meetings of the season between the two teams, winning 4-1 on the opening day of the campaign and 3-0 in the Mills Cup first round during the Glens’ rough start.Since then, they have hit the heights with big with a strong run either side of Christmas before losing to three of the bottom four in succession. But the fact that no one above them has had particularly strong form either means they are still within touching distance of fourth placed Rovers.
Three Rock, meanwhile, have played well in their last three outings for little reward. A 4-3 loss to Garvey in the league was followed by Senior Cup elimination to the same opponent after normal time ended 3-3. A 1-1 draw with Monkstown was their last outcome.
Garvey, meanwhile, can conceivably win the league this weekend should they win and Monkstown miss out on all three points. Their task pits them against Pembroke on home turf as they look to extend their 11 game winning streak.
Monkstown will look to keep Lisnagarvey honest and prolong the title race when they host Railway Union at the Merrion Fleet Arena. They will hope to have David Cole back after exams while Kyle Good missed their draw with Three Rock last time out.
Railway, meanwhile, will look to continue their push for the top four places which was reignited when they beat Cookstown last week. Mark English and James Dick scored the goals with some members of the Sandymount club suggesting the latter, who holds an Irish passport, might be worth a look for the national side.
At the bottom, Cookstown and Cork C of I are involved in a huge tussle at Steelweld Park. The Co Tyrone side have knocked off seven points of a deficit to the Cork side in recent times to get within range of escaping the drop zone.
They meet a C of I side without a win since October and victory for Cookstown could move them out of the bottom two for the first time since long before Christmas.
Annadale meet Banbridge as Lough Moss looking to do likewise and escape the bottom two. Andy Smyth’s side have also won eight points since Christmas to raise their chances of escaping the drop. Draw-masters Bann, meanwhile, are looking for a first win in four outings.
In Leinster Division 1A, YMCA probably need three wins from three to win a playoff place. They start that campaign with a tie against Avoca on Saturday at Wesley while UCD will hope to get something from their game against Corinthian.
Men’s EY Hockey League (Saturday): Cookstown v Cork C of I, 1pm, Steelweld Park; Glenanne v Three Rock Rovers, 2pm, Glenanne Park; Annadale v Banbridge, 2.30pm, Lough Moss; Lisnagarvey v Pembroke, 3pm, Comber Road; Monkstown v Railway Union, 4pm, Merrion Fleet Arena
Leinster Division 1A: UCD v Corinthian, 12.50pm, Belfield; YMCA v Avoca, 2pm, Wesley College
Division 1B: Fingal v Kilkenny, 1pm, NSC; Weston v Rathgar, 1.15pm, Griffeen Valley Park