Top four battles set to blow open IHL race again

The top four all showdown in men’s Leinster division one, something that will give the IHL chasers plenty of hope that they can close the gap for a place in next year’s marquee competition.

Monkstown trounced Three Rock Rovers when they met earlier this season in the league and a repeat performance would see the sky blues move ever closer to retaining the title.

Monkstown's Gareth Watkins will look to continue his fine form Pic: Adrian Boehm

Monkstown’s Gareth Watkins will look to continue his fine form Pic: Adrian Boehm

Lee Cole will be a key player and he impressed in his first international match on Tuesday night, getting a second call for their game on Friday against France with a strong performance in defence.

Rovers will be without Jody Hosking who broke a bone in his hand in Rovers’ impressive win over Lisnagarvey, adding to their heavy casualty list this season but they showed they have plenty about them in that tie to cause problems for top sides.

The central Irish panel are unlikely to be available for these league games while other have played a decent amount of hockey during the week.

Glenanne host Pembroke in Tallaght in another key tussle with the winner strengthening their place in the IHL places to the detriment of their nearest rival.

The Glens won the first meeting of the sides in tempestuous fashion in front of a big Friday night crowd. If they can do so again, they have a fairly friendly run-in that should get them over the line.

Stephen Brownlow is the key man at the base of midfield, setting in motion their attacks while breaking up others. Pembroke, though, bounced back from their loss to YMCA to win three in-a-row in the league and push on in the Irish Hockey League.

YM will look to benefit most from the dropped points ahead of them as they travel out to Corinthian, now formally out of the IHL race, with Jamie Tobin looking to add to his 11-goal haul this term.

Avoca face Rathgar on Saturday in a bottom of the table tie with the Irish Times reporting that 54-year-old former international Peter Agnew will come in between the posts to alleviate a crisis of available goalkeepers.

Railway Union’s date with UCD is postponed due to the former’s involvement in the European Indoor Club Champions Challenge where they opened with a 10-4 loss to hot favourites and hosts Rotterdam.

Miguel Villar scored twice while Kenny Carroll and Mark English were also on the score sheet but World Cup gold medallist Bjorn Kellerman notched a hat trick while Bas Campbell scored four for Rotterdam.

The Irish Junior Cup occupies the minds of Railway Union II and Monkstown II. The former travel north to play their refixed second round battle with Cookstown while Monkstown are in the quarter-finals in a battle royale with Banbridge at Rathdown as part of a big day at the venue.

Earlier this week, Rathgar conceded their second round tie against Instonians meaning the Shawsbridge side will now face Three Rock Rovers II in the quarter-finals.

It leaves three games in division two with Pembroke II facing a tough task at Clontarf while second place Three Rock are out at ALSAA against Fingal. Corinthian II are still looking to register their first win when they host Kilkenny.

Men’s Leinster Division One: Avoca v Rathgar, 12pm, Newpark; Corinthian v YMCA, 12.45pm, Whitechurch Park; Monkstown v Three Rock Rovers, 1.15pm, Rathdown; Glenanne v Pembroke, 2pm, Glenanne Park

Division Two: Fingal v Three Rock Rovers II, 12pm ALSAA; Corinthian II v Kilkenny, 2.15pm, Whitechurch Park; Clontarf v Pembroke II, 12pm, Mount Temple

Mills Cup semi-finals (Sunday): YMCA v Glenanne, 3.30pm, Milltown; Corinthian v Railway Union, tbc, Whitechurch Park

Irish Junior Cup
Second round, Saturday:
Instonians v Rathgar, Rathgar concede walkover; Annadale v Cork Harlequins, 2.30pm, Lough Moss
Sunday: Cookstown v Railway Union, 2.30pm, Steelweld Park
Quarter-finals: Lisnagarvey v Cork C of I, 2.30pm, Comber Road; Monkstown v Banbridge, 3pm, Rathdown

Men's Leinster Senior Div 1