Rathgar

Last season: 1st division two; Irish Hockey Trophy semi-final, Neville Davin Cup final
Player-coach: Graham O’Neill (3rd year)

In: Josh Purcell (YMCA), Niall Noonan (Dublin University), Lennart Bakker (Ede, Holland)
Out: Andrew Beverland, Brian O’Connor (both emigrated)

The lowdown: Just four years since formation, the Chiefs first division one bid looks set to be a tough one. Unlike some of the other sides that have come up in recent years, they have resisted bringing in a large number of foreign players to bolster their chances of staying up.

DSC_2416Lennart Bakker is the one outsider, coming from Ede who play in the Eerste Klasse – the third tier of Dutch hockey. Niall Noonan has been one of Dublin Uni’s best performers and is a solid in-bound addition while Josh Purcell has lots of potential.

They do have a decent amount of division one experience and with a late 20s profile for the most part, they probably move up with more of an idea of the demands than most promoted sides. Gary Sharman and Stu Cinnamond provide the forward impetus from midfield while Graham O’Neill will endeavour to dictate the pace.

He is among a glut of former Trinity players from a time when they were a division one side including skipper Jonny Orr, Nico Odlum and Dan Needham. Former Fingal man Stephen Thompson could be more available this season while Mark Collins is also back in the mix.

Preseason results ended with a comprehensive 6-0 win over Dublin Uni on Thursday night and they have also beaten Weston and drawn with Corinthian. A 6-6 draw against Clontarf, though, would be a worry, especially in conceding three own goals.

Dan Gribben is a very capable goalkeeper and will be well tested this year. They need to use early season enthusiasm to get something from their first three games – Glenanne, Fingal and Corinthian – if they are to make a sustained effort at avoiding the bottom rung of the table.

First three games: Sept 14 – Glenanne (h); Sept 21 – Fingal (a); Sept 28 – Corinthian (h)
Prediction: 10th

Men's Leinster Senior Div 1