Pritchard confident C of I close to clicking into gear ahead of double weekend

Denis Pritchard feels his Cork C of I side are just “one or two results away from being a mid-table” side as they face up to a big double weekend in Ulster.

They face Annadale on Saturday in the men’s EY Hockey League before making the short hop from Belfast to Co Tyrone to play Cookstown in the Irish Senior Cup quarter-final on Sunday.

The Garryduff side do so having dropped to the bottom of the league last weekend – albeit with a couple of games in hand – fuelling worries Munster could lose its one representative in the national division.

But Pritchard is confident his side can get back to winning ways and turn their frequent draws into three points.

“When you look back at our match videoes, you can see we are not far off,” he said. “Our ability to hold the ball is getting far better and we are creating enough chances now.

“Finishing is an issue and we do need to start winning more penalty corners, especially as we have a weapon like John Jermyn in the team.”

They will be bolstered this weekend by the return of David Hobbs from injury while Simon Wolfe has been getting a decent amount of game time following a lengthy layoff. Frenchman Thomas Chalumeau is also back in town to finish off his course with CIT and adds to their deck.

It means they can travel with a far greater hand though this is tempered by the volume of hockey in the legs with Kevin O’Dea and Andrew Salter in England in midweek with the Irish Under-18s on a training camp.

Nonetheless, C of I will look at the Annadale game as one to target, especially after the mid-table Strathearn side were crushed 5-0 at home against Monkstown as they missed their Olympian and player-coach Peter Caruth.

Cookstown, meanwhile, have been in freefall of late, losing three times in eight games with 15 goals conceded. C of I have been defensively strong with Jermyn deployed deep so a tight game could ensue.

It is part of a massive double weekend with a full round of EYHL league matches on Saturday followed up by a couple of other Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals.

One tie, though, looks to be decided already with Kilkeel withdrawing, seeing Glenanne through via a walkover. The club’s constitution says the Mourne outfit will not play on Sundays and a midweek EGM on the issue did not change that stance, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph.

Banbridge host holders Three Rock Rovers and Lisnagarvey face Pembroke for the second time in eight days on both counts.

Elsewhere in the league on Saturday, first plays third as Glenanne take on Pembroke at Serpentine Avenue in the table-topper while Lisnagarvey host Three Rock Rovers. YMCA host Banbridge while Cookstown come up against Monkstown.

The Irish Junior Cup is at the quarter-final stages while Sunday sees a couple of the Irish Hockey Trophy fixtures on the card with Rathgar hosting Waterford and NICS taking on North Down.

In Leinster Division One, UCD extended their lead at the top of the table with a 4-2 win against Dublin North. As has happened in the majority of their matches since the new year, they found themselves behind with North scoring within 15 seconds.

Cork C of I corner defence. Pic: Adrian Boehm

From tip-off, Shane Dempsey ran from the half way line to find Adrian Sweeney in the 25 who took the ball along the end line, flicking the ball over the goalkeeper where Dempsey volleyed home.

John Guilfoyle equalised from a corner and it stayed that way until midway through the second half with David Nolan and Guilfoyle adding further set piece goals for 3-1.

Sweeney showed his speed and skill around the D and struck the ball into the top corner for 3-2 but Ewan Ramsay sealed the win for the students late on.

Dublin University versus Avoca is the only other Leinster Division One game on the cards.

Men’s weekend fixtures – Saturday unless stated
EY Hockey League – Round 12: Annadale v Cork C of I, Strathearn School, 2.30pm; Cookstown v Monkstown, Steelweld Park, 2.30pm; Lisnagarvey v Three Rock Rovers, Comber Road, 3pm; Pembroke Wanderers v Glenanne, Serpentine Ave, 2.30pm; YMCA v Banbridge, Wesley College, 2.15pm

Irish Junior Cup (quarter-finals): Banbridge II v Three Rock Rovers II, Havelock Park, 2.30pm; Glenanne II v Lisnagarvey II, St. Andrews College, Booterstown, 4pm; Monkstown II v Belfast Harlequins II, The Merrion Fleet Arena, Monkstown, 2pm; YMCA II v Instonians II, Wesley College, 4pm

Leinster Division 1: Dublin University v Avoca, Santry Avenue, 4.15pm

Munster Division 1
Friday: Cork C of I B 0 UCC 8 (S Grace 2, E Finnegan 2, M Horgan 2, B Cronin, S Jermyn)
Saturday: Ashton v Catholic Institute, Ashton School, 12.15pm

Irish Senior Cup (quarter-finals)
Sunday: Banbridge v Three Rock Rovers, Havelock Park, 2.30pm; Cookstown v Cork C of I, Cookstown HC, 1pm; Kilkeel v Glenanne, Donard Park, 1pm; Lisnagarvey v Pembroke Wanderers, Lisnagarvey HC, 3pm

Irish Hockey Trophy (semi-finals)
Sunday: NICS v North Down, Stormont, 3.30pm; Rathgar v Waterford, The High School, 1pm

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