Following Banbridge’s big win on Wednesday evening against Lisnagarvey, they have the potential to take back the lead – and potentially win outright – in the men’s EY Hockey League.They face a double weekend, hosting UCD on Saturday and then Glenanne on Sunday at Havelock Park where wins in both will mean they top the table by the weekend’s end.
Mark Tumilty has a full deck to work from with Owen Magee making a goalscoring return from injury with a cracking strike against Garvey.
Mathematically, it means just two sides are in with a shout of the title with Three Rock Rovers the current incumbent at the head of the table. They are seeking their 10th successive win when they travel to Cork C of I, a venue they have a good record at.
For C of I, their playoff hopes have suffered in recent times with three losses in their last four games almost compounded last week against Instonians before two Simon Wolfe goals in the last five minutes salvaged a 2-1 win.
John Jermyn’s dynamism has been sorely missed in midfield, slowing the pace of their game, but Wolfe’s return is a decent boost.
Monkstown have profited from C of I’s loss of form and are back in the mix for fourth place. They have a double weekend, too, with a trip to Glenanne on Saturday before facing Instonians on Sunday who may be relegated by the time that trip comes around.
Town continue to be without Gareth Watkins and Richard Sykes but Matteo Romoli could return after missing last week due to the Irish Under-18 trip to Wales.
Inst, meanwhile, need a result against Lisnagarvey on Saturday to keep their interest in staying in the EYHL alive. Six single goal losses this season, a number due to late goals, have proven their downfall, letting slip a series of points.
In the battle to avoid the relegation playoff game, if Glenanne win against Monkstown, they will be safe or if UCD lose to Banbridge.
Railway Union, meanwhile, meet a Pembroke side with little to play for at Park Avenue. Railway’s need is much more urgent as a win could ensure that they are clear of the relegation playoff place going into the final day of the season.
At the Merrion Fleet Arena, the provincial playoffs begin in earnest with Leinster’s Clontarf and YMCA, Munster’s Cork Harlequins and Ulster’s Annadale and Belfast Harlequins all competing.
Belfast Quins, fourth place finishers in Ulster, take up the place in the competition in place of Kilkeel – who ended third – whose club constitution does not allow them to play on Sundays.
The winner from the five-team competition will advance to the final playoffs at Grange Road in a fortnight’s time where they will join Corinthian, Bandon and Cookstown.
Men’s EY Hockey League
Saturday: Cork C of I v Three Rock Rovers, 2.30pm, Garryduff; Banbridge v UCD, 2.45pm, Havelock Park; Glenanne v Monkstown, 3pm, Glenanne Park; Instonians v Lisnagarvey, 3pm, Shaw’s Bridge; Railway Union v Pembroke, 4.15pm, Park Avenue
Sunday: Banbridge v Glenanne, 2pm, Havelock Park; Monkstown v Instonians, 2.30pm, Merrion Fleet Arena
EY Provincial Playoffs (all at the Merrion Fleet Arena)
Saturday: Clontarf v YMCA, 11am; Belfast Harlequins v Annadale, 12.30pm; Cork Harlequins v Clontarf, 2pm; YMCA v Belfast Harlequins, 3.30pm; Annadale v Cork Harlequins, 5pm
Sunday: Clontarf v Belfast Harlequins, 9.30am; YMCA v Annadale, 11am; Cork Harlequins v Belfast Harlequins, 12.30pm; Clontarf v Annadale, 3.30pm; YMCA v Cork Harlequins, 5pm