A half-dozen men’s EY Hockey League clubs will battle on both league and Irish Senior Cup fronts while further changes are also on the horizon.
Crammed in are plenty of highlights, not least the meeting between Three Rock Rovers and Glenanne in the league and Banbridge’s cup tie with Lisnagarvey.
The former pits the only sides to have won two from two so far. Rovers have been in cruise control, running up 11 goals against Annadale and Railway Union with new South African arrival Richard Pautz accounting for five of them.
They will be without key defender Luke Madeley, however, who sustained an ankle injury two weeks ago and is in a protective boot.
Glenanne, for their part, are in rude health following a string of new arrivals this season and a change of scenery. Joe Brennan is back in the coaching role at the Glens for a tie against a side he coached to the Irish Senior Cup in 2014.
The tie will be preceded by a first ParaHockey blitz with Three Rock’s Rockets, the Monkstown Strikers and the Railway Union Railblazers all taking part from 1.30pm before the EYHL game (click here for more on the introduction of ParaHockey).
The Sunday date between Bann and Garvey is always hotly anticipated. The Havelock Park hosts have missed the services of Irish internationals Eugene Magee and Johnny McKee while Sam Farson and Peter Brown were under the weather last weekend at EHL ROUND1 in Barcelona.
For Garvey, Paul Gleghorne has missed some of the early season action but they did impress in their opening 4-2 win of the campaign against Monkstown.
Bann lead into the Sunday cup tie with a home date against Annadale while Garvey will have to travel back up from Pembroke who they play on Saturday.
Cookstown make the long trip to Munster on Saturday for their postponed opening match in the EY Hockey League against Cork C of I. They travel to Garryduff on the back of two defeats and two excellent second half performances.
“Glenanne was another great second half from our lads and to have come away from that game without points is hard to take,” said Cookstown midfielder Greg Allen.
“Listen, we just have to learn from this and when we come up against Cork this week coming we’ve got to magic up that same effort and intensity from the start.”
C of I, meanwhile, will be looking to learn similar lessons following late concessions against both Glenanne and Annadale. Railway host Monkstown who have Andrew Ward back in the fold after a weekend away while Pembroke face Lisnagarvey with Alan Sothern looking to add to his four goals thus far in the campaign.
On Sunday, Bann versus Garvey is very definitely the pick of the first round ties with the other games pitting plenty of regional teams against EYHL teams.
Rathgar welcome an ISC winner into their ranks with Alan White moving from Three Rock with whom he won the title in 2014. They host Pembroke.
Railway go to Clontarf, Dublin University host Annadale while Monkstown face Corinthian in an interesting test.
Like the women’s EYHL, there are several changes in the men’s schedule due to arrangements with the senior international team.
The highlight of the Irish men’s program will be attending the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia in March. Ireland will also include a tri-nation tournament in Spain with the Netherlands at the end of January along with some home games to be finalised.
The upshot of this is Round 13 of the league moves to December 16 from March 3; Round 9 was originally set for December 16 but goes to November 18 to avoid the same clubs meeting twice within a two-week period.
Round 14 moves to February 24 while the Irish Senior Cup semi-finals go from February 24 to March 18. The changes are made to allow all clubs to have access to their international players for all EYHL and Irish Senior Cup games.
Men’s weekend fixtures
EY Hockey League
Saturday: Cork C of I v Cookstown, 1pm, Garryduff; Pembroke v Lisnagarvey, 2.30pm, Serpentine Avenue; Railway Union v Monkstown, 2.40pm, Park Avenue; Banbridge v Annadale, 2.45pm, Havelock Park; Three Rock Rovers v Glenanne, 3pm, Grange Road
Irish Senior Cup, first round
Saturday: Avoca v Kilkeel, 12.45pm, Newpark;
Sunday: Clontarf v Railway Union, 2pm, Mount Temple; Rathgar v Pembroke, 2pm, High School; Dublin University v Annadale, 3pm, Santry Avenue; Banbridge v Lisnagarvey, 3.30pm, Havelock Park; Monkstown v Corinthian, 4pm, Merrion Fleet Arena
Leinster Division One
Saturday: UCD v YMCA, 11.15am, Belfield; Dublin North v Rathgar, 1.30pm, NSC; Dublin University v Kilkenny, 3pm, Santry Avenue; Corinthian v Weston, 3.30pm, Whitechurch Park