The new era at Monkstown hits full momentum on Saturday with the first double-header at the Merrion Fleet Arena since the amalgamation with Hermes in the summer
Hermes-Monkstown raise the curtain at 2.15pm against Pegasus in what they are dubbing SoftCo Super Saturday – in honour of their sponsors – before the men take the field at 4.15pm against Railway Union.
Town probably emerged from the opening weekend as the most impressive performer, sweeping aside Cork C of I before seeing off Instonians 3-1 on the road. Max Maguire stepped up to don the pads and made a number of important saves into the bargain.
They will play a Railway side who will welcome Kenny Carroll back after he missed last Sunday’s drubbing to Garvey. The Australian leagues finish up this week so the Park Avenue side will be able to add Mark English and Fergal Keaveney back into their ranks as well as new signing Kieran Springett.
On the big day out for Monkstown, club president Trevor Watkins paid tribute to Softco’s support.
“The prize of European hockey is an exciting one but has brought with it a financial burden over the last number of years. As we aim to continue challenging for national titles and European qualification, the support of SoftCo is a very welcome addition for us.”
In the other Dublin derby, Three Rock will be shy the services of Garry Ringwood against Glenanne after he picked up a nasty leg injury in last Sunday’s tie against UCD.
The Glens only brought 14 players with them to their opening day tie with Railway as they await the return of Shane O’Donoghue from his travels. From that squad, Daryl Carey, Mick McGuinness, Rowland Rixon-Fuller and Stu Ronan filtering back into the panel.
Clive Kennedy missed last Sunday’s tie against Banbridge but is available once again for this tie.
Pembroke have a number of injury issues on their doorstep with Patrick Good’s popped hamstring adding to the absence of Ronan Flannery while Eric Foy is also a doubt.
With a number of players departing in the summer, it meant coach Johnny Caren was forced to play more of their tie against Cork C of I than he, perhaps, would have liked.
They host Lisnagarvey next at Serpentine Avenue and will need Kirk Shimmins and Alan Sothern to bring their Olympic qualities to bear to try and force a result.
For Garvey, Timmy Cockram remains on an extended break since Rio but they showed few ill-effects in his absence – in addition to Michael Watt’s departure – with 10 goals in two games including a 7-0 demolition of Railway Union.
Jonny Bell said ahead the tie he anticipates a tough tie: “We’ve hit the ground running with two wins and we hope to build on that, although Pembroke on their own ground is usually difficult.”
Promoted UCD pushed both Garvey and Three Rock all the way on their return to the top table with Jeremy Duncan, Jazze Henry and David Nolan a driving force from midfield.
They produced most of their best hockey in both games when behind, largely controlling phases of both when in arears, especially in the closing stages suggesting their fitness will stand to them.
They face a C of I side who were without David Hobbs and Simon Wolfe on opening weekend but David Harvey has returned after a preseason injury.
Banbridge meet Instonians in their last pre-EHL match in an Ulster derby. Bann’s penalty corner efficiency was a feature last weekend with three goals from five set-pieces to ensure they emerged with four points despite being well tested by Glenanne and Three Rock Rovers.
Inst showed they will cause problems to established EYHL sides. They were only a missed stroke from getting something at Pembroke and had a good portion of chances against Monkstown.
And Mark Tumilty knows Bann will need to be on their guard: “This weekend showed that they’re not going to roll over. I have no doubt that this will be a tough game. We know we have to play to the level that we’re capable of.”
In Leinster, YMCA, Corinthian and Dublin University all make their seasonal bows. The Y host Rathgar, the reds are on the road to Kilkenny while Trinity face Avoca in what should be a good test of their playoff credentials.
Men’s EY Hockey League (Saturday): Cork C of I v UCD, 2.30pm, Garryduff; Banbridge v Instonians, 2.45pm, Havelock Park; Three Rock Rovers v Glenanne, 3pm, Grange Road; Pembroke v Lisnagarvey, 4pm, Serpentine Avenue; Monkstown v Railway Union, 4.15pm, Merrion Fleet Arena
Leinster Division One (Saturday): Weston v Fingal, 11am, Griffeen Valley Park; Kilkenny v Corinthian, 12.30pm, Kilkenny College; Dublin University v Avoca, 1pm, Santry Avenue; YMCA v Rathgar, 1.45pm, Wesley College