Clontarf and YMCA’s EYHL promotion playoff hopes reach critical mass this Saturday with both probably battling it out for the third place from Leinster’s Division 1A.
The Y kept alive their chances of reaching the playoffs last weekend with a narrow 3-2 win over Avoca, Ben Campbell scoring twice, and they face another must win tie against the Bulls.Lose and their hopes are gone; draw and they require favours from elsewhere on the final day of this phase of the season.
UCD, meanwhile, can formally secure their place in the playoffs if they can continue their excellent run of form, a series that has seen them record three successive clean sheets.
They became the first side to defeat Corinthian in Division 1A with a strong performance, Gertjie Lamprecht smashing the first into the top corner two minutes in before Jeremy Duncan and David Nolan’s late goal ran up a 3-0 victory. Elun Hack’s side go to Blackrock with a win formalising their passage to the playoffs.
Kilkenny, meanwhile, will contest the Irish Hockey Trophy final on Saturday against Bandon at Belfield. It is their fourth national final since 2011. They reached the Challenge decider then when they fell to Portrane and then to Ballynahinch a year later.
They then lost to Portadown in the Trophy final in 2013 and so they will be looking to amend that run this time around. Bandon, though, have a similarly strong desire to get the result having lost to Newry in 2014’s final and Clontarf, controversially, in the 2015 showdown.
The Cats will draw on the experience of Derek O’Gorman and Tom Manning while former Monkstown man Billy McEnery could make an appearance. The younger likes of Louis Bourke, Eamonn Walsh and Eoin Finnegan make for a strong line-up.
But Bandon arrive in Dublin with what the Examiner describe as “their strongest line-up”, one which has won 10 out of 11 games in Munster’s Division 1.
David and Ali Smith bring top level experience as does Clinton Sweetnam while young bucks Matt and David Jennings and Sean Nyhan are among their fast improving youngsters, making them probably the favourites.
In the Challenge final, Bray take on east Cork side Midleton. The Division 3 side can draw on top tier experience of former Monkstown and Glenanne player Alan Lewis while Stephen Jones, John Lush and Grattan Evans have a wealth of knowledge to guide them.
Men’s Leinster Division 1A: Avoca v UCD, 12.30pm, Newpark; YMCA v Clontarf, 2pm, Wesley College
Division 1B: Fingal v Dublin University, 1pm, NSC
Irish Hockey Trophy final (Saturday): Kilkenny v Bandon, 3pm, Belfield
Irish Hockey Challenge final (Saturday): Midleton v Bray, 1pm, Belfield
Last week’s results
Division 1A: UCD 3 (G Lamprecht, J Duncan, D Nolan) Corinthian 0; YMCA 3 (B Campbell 2, R Anderson) Avoca 2 (R Couse 2)
Division 1B: Fingal 0 Kilkenny 2; Weston 0 Rathgar 8 (S Cinnamond 2, D Meade 2, S Malcolm, J Willoughby, A Tyrrell, S Gould)