The fixtures are set to come thick and fast in the coming weeks in the men’s EY Hockey League with this weekend bringing games on Saturday and Sunday.
For Monkstown, they have played just five times this term to date but have a double weekend of Dublin derbies on the schedule as the catch-up begins, facing Pembroke on Saturday and Glenanne a day later. Get a good return from these tough ties and they can actively start thinking about a playoff charge; lose both and they could have a little anxious look over their shoulder.
They look like they have the quality through the team to be more likely to do the former with plenty of forward fire power in Davy Carson, Geoff Cole, Gareth Watkins and Guy Sarratt’s corners.
Karl Lynch is still on the comeback trail and so likely to miss the meeting with his former club who surprised many with their five wins from seven outings before Christmas.
That included a 4-3 win over Town first time around, featuring what became a characteristic fightback from a deficit. Keith O’Hare has been on fire as the main corner option.
Sunday’s date against the Glens sees them take on a cosmopolitan outfit with Cedric Jakobi emerging as a key cog with his distribution and set piece power. Sam O’Connor’s loping runs and range of passing, too, offers lots of momentum going forward for counter-strikes.
Cookstown have a big double-header of EYHL games this weekend with trips to take on Ulster rivals Lisnagarvey and Banbridge.
First up is a tough trip to Comber Road in Hillsborough to take on Garvey on Saturday at 3pm before the Reds visit Havelock Park on Sunday for a game against Banbridge at 2.30pm.
“They don’t come much harder than back-to-back away games against two of your provincial rivals,’ said Greg Allen, the Cookstown skipper. “But we’ll go into it looking to overturn the odds and get points from the games.
“We’ve had some good performances in the Anderson Cup and all the guys who needed rest have had it now. It really is time for our men to knuckle down and show what they can do.
“Obviously as players we really can’t look beyond the Garvey game and in that regard we are pretty well prepared. We’ll need to win or get parity in the individual battles if we hope to get anything from the game.
“Garvey were one of the few teams to get a game last weekend due to the snow and seem to have played very well to get a point against league leaders Glenanne, so they’ll come into it full of confidence and running. We’ll have to match that.
“Bann are flying in the league but have a tough enough game away to Cork on Saturday, so maybe there is an opportunity for us there. One thing is for sure, it will be all about recovery and fitness this weekend.”
Cork C of I, meanwhile, will be looking to finally get a win on the board when they host Banbridge, a side they regularly cause problems for at Garryduff.
Earlier this week, Three Rock ran up a 7-3 win over YMCA with Luke Madeley scoring a hat trick of penalty corners. Mark English opened the scoring a minute in, tipping in from Daragh Walsh’s incision.
Grant Glutz equalised soon after but Madeley made it 2-1 with barely five minutes gone. Rovers stretched the lead to 6-1 before Glutz and Tom Ritchie got a couple of back in the closing quarter before Madeley completed his hat trick.
On Friday, Rovers gave themeslves a great chance of reaching the final four of the EuroHockey Indoor Club Challenge I in Oslo. They came back from 5-2 down with four minutes to go to draw with Ukraine’s OKS SHVSM Vinnitsa 5-5.
And they followed up with a 3-2 win over Cardiff & Met in game two, Ross Canning, Jody Hosking and Eckhart Geyer getting them a key win. It has them level on seven points with Saturday morning’s opponents Bologna with a win ensuring passage to the final four.
In Leinster Division One, leaders UCD face Dublin University with the Belfielders looking to strengthen their place at the head of the table.
Rudi Wortmann’s side have managed to keep rolling since the turn of the year despite a large amount of unavailable players, taking their time before eventually shaking off Portrane and Kilkenny.
Trinity have been in decent form and need a result to keep alive their outside chances of closing the gap to the top three and a possible EYHL2 chance.
Corinthian face an Avoca side who were able to field a full 16 for the first time last weekend in quite a while with players coming back from injury but they are still waiting on Karl Chapple and Elliott Goode to make a return.
Railway Union have a tester against Rathgar who will be without regular goalkeeper Conor Quinn who is part of the Three Rock indoor squad in Oslo.
At the bottom, Dublin North host Portrane with the two sides looking for a first win since October and September, respectively, to go a long way to avoiding the bottom rung. North won 4-2 last time around.
Kilkenny have struggled for numbers on the road this season but will hope to be at fuller strength at home as Clontarf come to visit.
Men’s weekend fixtures
EY Hockey League
Tuesday: Three Rock Rovers 7 (L Madeley 3, D Walsh 2, R Canning, M English) YMCA 3 (G Glutz 2, T Ritchie)
Saturday: Cork C of I v Banbridge, Garryduff, 2.30pm; Lisnagarvey v Cookstown, Comber Road, 3pm; Monkstown v Pembroke, ALD Merrion Fleet Arena, 2.30pm
Sunday: Banbridge v Cookstown, Havelock Park, 2.30pm; Monkstown v Glenanne, ALD Merrion Fleet Arena, 2.45pm
Leinster Division 1: Corinthian v Avoca, Whitechurch Park, 12.45pm; Kilkenny v Clontarf, Kilkenny College, 3.30pm; Rathgar v Railway Union, High School, 12.30pm; UCD v Dublin University, Belfield, 11.15am; Dublin North v Portrane, NSC, 12pm
Munster Division 1: Ashton v UCC, Ashton School, 3pm; Catholic Institute v Cork C of I B, Rosbrien, 2.30pm; Cork Harlequins v Bandon, Farmers’ Cross, 1.30pm
EuroHockey Indoor Club Challenge I (Oslo, Norway)
Friday: HC OKS SHVSM Vinnitsa 5 Three Rock Rovers 5 (R Canning 2, J Hosking, H Morris, B W; Cardiff & Met 2 Three Rock Rovers 3 (E Geyer, J Hosking, R Canning)
Saturday: Hockey Club Bologna v Three Rock Rovers, 9am
Standings: 1. Bologna Hockey Team 7pts (+2) 2. Three Rock Rovers 7pts (+1) 3. OKS SHVSM Vinnitsa 4pts (0) 4. Cardiff & Met 2pts (-3)