Paddy's Day carnival highlights hectic week

The season continues to hurtle to a conclusion at break-neck speed with a wealth of key midweek matches with six titles decided before Friday comes while the picture in men’s division one for the relegation play-off and IHL places will become slightly clearer.

The highlight, though, is the annual St Patrick’s Day festival of hockey at Grange Road with the men’s and women’s Leinster senior cup finals complemented by the U-16 boy’s Benny Atkinson Cup final.

Pembroke are looking to make it a day to remember, contesting both major titles in what would be a very rare men’s and women’s Leinster double.

The men go in as overwhelming favourites to succeed on the one stage that slipped them by last time round, losing a cracking final to Corinthian. Some of Pembroke’s play in recent weeks has been ominous as the EHL beckons on the Easter weekend in Rotterdam – their first half a case in point.

Tim Lewis is the main doubt from a fitness perspective for the fixture with Fingal (3.30pm) for whom they will be hoping to lay claim to their first ever senior trophy.

They reached this stage just once before, leaving their A game in the locker for the 2007 final against an understrength Glenanne, shorn of their international contingent.

That non-appearance adds to the motivation this time out and last Saturday’s win over Glenanne shows the hunger is very much in place.

In the women’s final, Pembroke and Alex make up a new-look pairing with Hermes long run as champions ended in emphatic style at the semi-final stages by the former. And while they still languish near the foot of division one, form elsewhere has been solid. Last weekend’s thriller at Park Avenue against Railway showed a rare competitive streak.

Anli Kotze has emerged as a player of substance in recent weeks while the power of Sarah Clarke and Natalie Fulton will spur them forward.

Alex have been a much more consistent outfit this year and have the benefit of a 3-1 victory over Wednesday’s opponents to their credit. Nicola Gray supplies the corner threat while Roisin Flinn’s rangy style provides the star quality.

In the U-16 final, Corinthian, coached by Brian Doherty, will need to negate the skills of David Cole and his Monkstown cohorts.

Prior to all these fixtures, UCD begin a chain of three fixtures in six days as they bid to escape a relegation play-off. Currently eighth, they play Three Rock on Tuesday night before facing Railway Union in a potential crunch tie should they miss out in the first fixture.

It is also a busy week on the school’s scene as the Kate Russell Cup gets underway on Thursday in Galway.

St Andrew’s, following their double-winning exploits, represent the province and face Connacht runners-up Salerno and Ulster champions in the group stages with only the top side progressing to Friday’s final.

Reigning champions Colaiste Iognaid face Loreto, Kilkenny from the South East and Limerick’s Crescent College in the other group. On the Leinster schoolboy’s side, Dundalk play High School in the Senior B league final

Mills Cup final:
Pembroke vs Fingal, 3.30pm, Grange Road

Jacqui Potter Cup final:
Pembroke vs Old Alex, 1.30pm, Grange Road

Benny Atkinson (U-16 Boy’s) Cup final:
Corinthian vs Monkstown, 11.30am, Grange Road

Men’s Division One:
Tuesday: UCD vs TRR, 8.15pm, Belfield
Thursday: UCD vs Railway Union, 7.45pm, Belfield
Saturday: Glenanne vs Corinthian, 1.30pm, St Mark’s

Kate Russell, All-Ireland School’s competition (Galway), Thursday, March 18 and Friday, March 19:
Pool A:
Colaiste Iognaid, Loreto Kilkenny, Crescent Comprehensive
Pool B: Royal School Armagh, St Andrew’s, Salerno

Schoolboy’s Senior B League final:
Dundalk vs High School, 3pm, King’s Hospital

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