Lisnagarvey stand on the precipice of the inaugural EY Hockey League with a potential win over bottom placed Annadale on Saturday putting them over the line with three games to go.
In the wake of the controversial Irish Senior Cup final, captain Jonny Bell said there was still plenty “of trophies to play for” with this EYHL title bringing with it a guaranteed European spot.
Dale will hope some of Michael Robson, Connor Roberts and Matthew Allister are back available having missed their tie with Banbridge last time out three weeks ago against Banbridge.No matter whether they are at full strength or not, they will find this a tough battle but they put it up to Garvey in their opening tie and will need to do something similar on home turf if they are to boost their chances of escaping the relegation zone.
Monkstown can formalise a Champions Trophy place if they claim the points at Glenanne Park in the Gerry McCabe Cup, a tie that often goes against the form book. The Glens picked off an important win over Rovers for their respective playoff hopes last time out, playing the game at their pace and taking the chances that came their way.
But Town, in the Irish Senior Cup semi-finals, blew them away in their last meeting in Tallaght and so the Glens have plenty to work on for this contest. Peter Caruth missed the Senior Cup final and could continue to be out for this tie.
Railway Union and Pembroke’s Dublin 4 derby is another important one in the playoff race with both facing some crucial battles in the coming weeks in a congested mid-table if they are to reach the top four.
Three Rock will hope to win their first tie since mid-February but are still clinging on to their top four place. They travel to meet a Cork side who have not won since October but have seen their talisman John Jermyn come back from injury and do enough to earn an Irish return.
The last league meeting between the teams became a shoot-out between Jermyn’s hat trick of corners and Rovers’ counter-attack style. Three Rock also recorded a Senior Cup win at Garryduff but they will have to manage without the experience of Garry Ringwood.
Banbridge travel to Cookstown looking to consolidate their place in the playoffs.
In the Leinster league, Division 1A reaches its climax with Clontarf and YMCA hoping to become the final team to claim an EYHL promotion playoff place.
The former hold the aces. Should Tarf win at home against an Avoca side with little to play for, they would be assured of a place in the playoffs along with Corinthian and UCD. YM must hope the Bulls falter and then win their game at Whitechurch Park against league champions Corinthian.
In Division 1B, Kilkenny play twice in quick succession with the Cats looking to go top this evening when they meet Weston. On Saturday, they play Dublin University in a potential decider for who tops this pool.
In Ulster, Instonians face Kilkeel needing to avoid a 10-goal defeat to claim the Premier League. Both are assured of EYHL playoff places with Raphoe and Belfast Harlequins dicing for the third spot.
In Munster, Bandon and UCC will be the two representatives and will battle for their provincial title over the next two weeks when they meet twice.
Sunday sees the Irish Junior Cup finals with Monkstown playing Cork C of I at 3pm in Belfield.
Men’s EY Hockey League (Saturday): Glenanne v Monkstown, 2pm, Glenanne Park; Annadale v Lisnagarvey, 2.30pm, Lough Moss; Cookstown v Banbridge, 2.30pm, Steelweld Park; Cork C of I v Three Rock Rovers, 2.30pm, Garryduff; Railway Union v Pembroke, 2.30pm, Park Avenue
Leinster Division 1A (Saturday): Clontarf v Avoca, 3.30pm, Mount Temple; Corinthian v YMCA, 4pm, Whitechurch Park
Friday: Kilkenny v Weston, 8pm, Kilkenny College
Saturday: Dublin University v Kilkenny, 1.15pm, Santry Avenue
Irish Junior Cup final (Sunday): Monkstown v Cork C of I, 3pm