Crucial games abound in the men’s EY Hockey League with the sides in the top six all meeting each other while the bottom four also show down on week 14 of the elite competition.
For Monkstown, their trip to Grange Road against Three Rock Rovers is a must-win tie if they are to maintain a chance of the regular season title. They have lost their last three league games but last Sunday’s cup mauling of UCD means they can not be written off.
Richard Sykes is out for the remainder of the season due to his continued issues with a foot injury, meaning that Nick Dee will continue to step into the backline at times.
They face a Three Rock side on the back of five straight league wins but they did fall to Town in the Leinster Senior Mills Cup a couple of weeks back, giving up a 2-0 half-time lead to fall 4-2.
Rovers could welcome back Ben Walker and Jody Hosking after bugs ruled them out of last week’s tie with Lisnagarvey while Ross Canning was exam-tied but is also available. Garry Ringwood’s hamstring injury will be assessed.
Third plays fourth at Comber Road where Lisnagarvey host Cork C of I. Garvey continue to be without Michael Robson and Timmy Cockram and face a Cork side that badly missed John Jermyn last weekend in a shock 4-1 defeat to Railway Union.
The winner of the tie will end the weekend in the third EY Champions Trophy playoff as the season enters another a month-long break for the Hockey World League Round 2.
Banbridge face a Pembroke side who have two wins from their last three ties but have taken just one point from games against the top five in the league to date. If they are to make a late push for the playoffs, that will need to change.
Bann, though, have not lost at Havelock Park in all competitions – including the Euro Hockey League – since the EYHL finals last season. As always, Alan Sothern – the league’s joint top scorer on 13 with John Jermyn – is the man they most need to keep tabs on. Jamie Wright is unavailable but Matty Allister could return.
At the bottom, Instonians will hope they can build momentum off the back of their opening win of the campaign as they travel to Glenanne for another key tie for their aspirations.
Captain William Robinson has proven a rich source of inspiration, netting nine times this campaign and his set pieces will be a concern for the Glens’ defence.
His exchanges with Shane O’Donoghue – with 10 to his name despite missing the early stages of the campaign – will be a key facet. The Tallaght side’s home form has been their saviour to date with all bar one point – away to Inst – coming at St Mark’s and a third win would push them away from the relegation playoff spot.
Railway Union, meanwhile, host UCD hoping to do something similar and move away from that ninth place. The students have gone seven successive games without a point and play a Railway side bouyed by their win at Garryduff.
Between, the two sides have conceded 100 times in the league – averaging four conceded per game – so a high-scoring tie is on the agenda, especially after UCD won 4-3 earlier in the season.
In Leinster Division One, there were a number of twists in the midweek back matches. Corinthian returned to the top of the table, their 1-1 draw ekeing out a one-point advantage over YMCA with Davy Howard and Cillian Hynes exchanging goals.
Clontarf moved into the top three as Tom Noonan’s hat trick saw them beat Avoca 5-0. John Mullins set them on their way from Will Eicholt’s burst down the right.
Luke Hayden’s deft finish made it 2-0 before a Noonan double made it 4-0 by the break and he completed his treble in the second half. That result allowed Tarf to leap-frog Rathgar who fell 1-0 to Fingal courtesy of an Adrian Sweeney goal.
On Saturday, the title race sees Corinthian host a Fingal side in decent form with 10 points from their last 15 available in 2017. YMCA go to Clontarf while Rathgar face Avoca. Dublin University need a win over Weston to keep alive their outside playoff chances alive.
Men’s fixtures (Saturday unless stated)
EY Hockey League: Lisnagarvey v Cork C of I, 2.30pm, Comber Road; Three Rock Rovers v Monkstown, 3pm, Grange Road; Banbridge v Pembroke, 2.45pm, Havelock Park; Glenanne v Instonians, 4pm, Glenanne Park; Railway Union v UCD, 2pm, Park Avenue
Leinster Division One
Tuesday: Fingal 1 (A Sweeney) Rathgar 0; Clontarf 5 (T Noonan 3, J Mullins, L Hayden) Avoca 0
Thursday: Dublin University 1 (C Hynes) Corinthian 1 (D Howard)
Saturday: Dublin University v Weston, 12.30pm, Santry Avenue; Corinthian v Fingal, 11.30am, Whitechurch Park; Avoca v Rathgar, 12.30pm, Newpark; Clontarf v YMCA, 12.30pm, Mount Temple
Irish Hockey Trophy, semi-finals: Queen’s v South Antrim, 2.30pm, Queen’s; Limerick v North Down, 1.30pm, Villiers
Irish Hockey Challenge, semi-finals: Bray v Portrane, 12pm, Bray; Catholic Institute v Waterford, 12.30pm, Rosbrien
Irish Junior Cup (Sunday): Three Rock Rovers v Bandon, 3pm, Grange Road; Glenanne v Cork C of I, 3.30pm, Glenanne Park