Banbridge and Lisnagarvey’s Saturday night tie and YMCA’s hosting of Cork C of I look set to be the weekend’s pivotal battles in the men’s EY Hockey League.
Second and third respectively, Bann and Garvey are taking the 6pm slot on Saturday evening to up the crowd for what is one of the marquee ties on the calendar.
Garvey have ominously found their form and they will land at the home of their big rivals on the back of recent wins over Three Rock Rovers and Pembroke.
The Hillsborough outfit have also inflicted Bann’s only league defeat in the corresponding league fixture earlier in the season when they came out on top after a nine goal thriller.
Mark Tumilty’s side bowed out of the Irish Senior Cup in a blip to their form but Eugene Magee and Josh Moffett have been in fine fettle up top to do damage.
At the bottom, YMCA and C of I have a crucial showdown at Wesley. Both have recent wins over Cookstown to draw confidence from still fresh in the mind.
Crucial to the tie is, perhaps, how well YM defend against penalty corners, both in their concession and their running lines, against an in-form John Jermyn who whipped in five last weekend.
C of I stay in the vicinty for Sunday’s tie against Three Rock Rovers, meeting a side they have a rough record against in recent times. Three Rock’s first game of the weekend is against Monkstown, a key one for both clubs if they are to get back into the mix for a Champions Trophy place.
Leaders Glenanne will hope to be more efficient with their chances when they take on Cookstown at St Andrew’s. They missed the injured Cedric Jakobi’s corner prowess last Saturday against Pembroke when they let nine corner chances go incomplete.
Nonetheless, they showed created plenty of chances that, if replicated, could see them run up a few against a Cookstown side that has conceded 22 times in their last five games.
Fourth place Pembroke go to Annadale, a side who have endured a 5-0 loss and 3-3 draw at Strathearn in recent times but did beat the Dubliners in the return fixture.
In Leinster, UCD have ridden their luck at times against the sides at the bottom of the table at times since the turn of the year to amass a five-point lead at the top.
As such, their trip to Clontarf will be a tester and Railway Union and Corinthian will be hoping to see them drop points to reignite their title challenges; they meet Kilkenny and Portrane, respectively. Avoca host Rathgar while Dublin University come up against Dublin North.
Men’s weekend fixtures (Saturday unlees stated)
EY Hockey League
Saturday: Annadale v Pembroke Wanderers, Strathearn, 2.30pm; Banbridge v Lisnagarvey, Havelock Park, 6pm; Glenanne v Cookstown, St. Andrews College, 3pm; Three Rock Rovers v Monkstown, Grange Road, 3pm; YMCA v Cork C of I, Wesley College, 3.15pm
Sunday: Three Rock Rovers v Cork C of I, Grange Road, 2pm
Leinster Division 1: Avoca v Rathgar, Newpark, 12.30pm; Clontarf v UCD, Mount Temple, 12.30pm; Dublin University v Dublin North, Santry Avenue, 12.45pm; Railway Union v Kilkenny, Park Avenue, 2pm; Portrane v Corinthian, 12.30pm, Donabate
Munster Senior Cup, semi-finals: Ashton v Bandon, Ashton School, 2pm; Cork Harlequins v Catholic Institute, Farmers’ Cross, 1.30pm