Two unbeaten records lock horns at Comber Road in the Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals as Cork C of I hope they can do some damage at high-flying Lisnagarvey and show they can mix it at the top level.
Since relegation from the EYHL, the Garryduff side have widened their panel markedly with Mark Collins, Rob Sweetnam and Eoin Finnegan joining the club while Adam O’Callaghan and Phil Sweetnam returned.
They have since won all their games in Munster and EYHL Division 2 but Garvey represent a very different test, the Hillsborough side laying waste to pretty much everyone they have met bar Glenanne last weekend.
Even in that draw, their ability to comeback from 4-0 down to draw shows a reservoir of determination and C of I coach Denis Pritchard is well aware of the quality his side will face.
“This is a really big challenge,” he said. “They are the best team in the country at the moment and are playing a really nice style with their youngsters improving all the time. It will show us where we are in terms of how close we are to EY Division One level.
“It will be an eye-opener and reality check for some of the guys [after the Munster League] but no one will really give us much of a chance going up there. But, then again, there’s a few sides in Division One who go up there without much of a chance so why would they for a Division 2 side!
“There are always susprises in cup hockey and, last weekend, they almost fell to a bit of a surprise against Glenanne. Every team can have an off day.”
Talking about his squad, he feels it is one with far greater depth this year.
“The young players have been huge for us. Kevin O’Dea is playing some spectacular stuff and the extra numbers give us so much more energy and flexibility. Had we this kind of squad around last season, I reckon we would have got those few extra results we needed to stay up.”
John Jermyn returned to action last weekend but they do have doubts over Rob Sweetnam, who sustained five stitches from a blow to the hand, and Phil Byrne.
Elsewhere, UCD host Three Rock hoping to emulate their 3-1 win from the opening day of the season. The students got off to an impressive start to the season but have not won a tie in normal time since October. Erratic Rovers are coming off two league wins in a row and have not lost a knock-out tie in Ireland since 2017.
Cookstown host Pembroke at Steelweld Park in a repeat of the 2009 final. For the Ulster Premier side’s Mark Crooks, they see it as an opportunity to get one over a side from the EYHL.
“We’ve been going well and scoring plenty of goals, so there’s nothing to prevent us from really giving it a proper lash,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.
“There was very little between us and Pembroke in the IHL last season. They beat us at our place and we got the win at Serpentine Avenue back in March.
“This is a huge opportunity for us, a home draw is a massive advantage in the Irish Senior Cup and we should go into the match confident given how we’ve played for large parts of this season.”
Glenanne meet Monkstown for the second time this season with the latter winning 4-1 first time around.
In Leinster Division One, Clontarf rejoined Railway Union at the top of the table on Tuesday night with a 6-1 win over Dublin University with coach David Bane lining out, scoring one and setting up another.
On the same night, Avoca’s tie with Rathgar was frozen out. Two days later, Trinity bounced back to get off the mark with a 7-0 win over Weston, Liam Bean scoring a hat trick to lift the students off the bottom and into eighth place.
On Saturday, Avoca host Railway hoping to turn the tide after a chastening 6-1 loss in EYHL Division 2 a month ago. The Blackrock side have six points to make up on the leaders but have a game in hand.
Portrane and Rathgar have had productive campaigns to date and a winner from that tie will be, at least, in the top four. Dublin North welcome Bray.
Monkstown reached the Mills Cup semi-final in midweek with a 4-1 win over Railway Union, Davy Carson and Sam Hohn scoring first quarter goals to set them on their way.
Sunday sees the opening day of the Leinster men’s indoor league gets underway with eight games in action at St Columba’s College. Pool A features reigning champions Three Rock Rovers, Kilkenny, Avoca, Monkstown and Railway Union while Pool B has Railway Union B, Clontarf, Glenanne, Corinthian and YMCA.
Men’s weekend fixtures (Saturday unless stated)
Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals: Cookstown v Pembroke Wanderers, Steelweld Park, 2.45pm; Glenanne v Monkstown, St Andrews College, 2pm; Lisnagarvey v Cork C of I, Comber Road; UCD v Three Rock Rovers, Belfield, 1.30pm
Leinster Division 1
Tuesday: Clontarf 6 (K Mullins, K Murray, L Hayden, S Beattie, D Bane, D Keuter) Dublin University 1 (R O’Hanlon)
Thursday: Dublin University 7 (L Bean 3, T Cole 2, B Arrowsmith, G Arrowsmith) Weston 0
Saturday: Avoca v Railway Union, Newpark, 1pm; Dublin North v Bray, National Sports Campus, 2pm; Portrane v Rathgar, Donabate LC, 1pm
Postponed: Rathgar v Avoca – frost
Mills Cup quarter-final: Monkstown 4 (D Carson 2, S Hohn, A Rooney) Railway Union 1 (D Curley
Munster Peard Cup semi final: Bandon v Ashton, Bandon GS, 10.30am
Leinster Indoor League (all at St Columba’s College)
Sunday: Railway Union v Monkstown, 12.15pm; YMCA v Corinthian, 12.55pm; Avoca v Railway Union, 1.35pm; Glenanne v YMCA, 2.15pm; Clontarf v Corinthian, 2.55pm; Avoca v Kilkenny, 3.35pm; Clontarf v Railway Union B, 4.15pm; Three Rock Rovers v Kilkenny, 4.55pm