Men’s weekend preview
Monkstown can leave Pembroke needing snookers in the men’s Leinster division one title race if they can get one over YMCA at Milltown in round 16 of the league.
The sky-blues hold a six-point lead over the chasers with just three rounds of matches remaining and, were they to succeed against the Y, they would need just a point against Rathgar to get over the line.
But they will be facing a YM side who have strengthened since falling 5-2 to the Rathdown club before Christmas with Kurt Hensburg scoring all four of his games since arriving in Ireland.Indeed, they have won six of eight league games since that last meeting. Should they get a win, it would set them up nicely for two huge games against Railway and YMCA in the final two weeks of the season.
Whether they can tame a Town side who have scored nearly 30 more than any other side in the division will be the big task for Jason Klinkradt’s side though they do not have to manage Peter Caruth who is away with David Fitzgerald on international duty.
For Railway’s part, several of their side will hope they can adapt quickly to the outdoor game after last week’s European indoor campaign in Rotterdam and use that as an inspiration.
They have lost twice to Three Rock Rovers this season – once in the league, once in the IHL – and are pretty much in the last chance saloon when it comes to qualifying for next season’s Irish Hockey League.
Indeed, they probably need to win this tie against Rovers at Grange Road as well as one against near rivals YM a week later to have any chance of making it though they will fancy six points from their other two ties.
For Rovers, the game has equal importance as victory will more than likely kill off one of their rivals’ hopes.
The other ties look less dramatic on paper. Pembroke should get over the line for an IHL place if they get the better of Avoca while Glenanne host UCD as they look tighten their hold on a top three finish.
After a rough day out last Saturday, losing 7-1 to Avoca, Rathgar will be looking to restore pride when they meet Corinthian on home turf. The reds have little to play for, seemingly nailed on for a seventh place finish.
For Rathgar, it remains to be seen exactly what bottom place would mean and so they need points to escape leaving that to fate. That will be revealed on Wednesday, March 4 in the Stillorgan Park Hotel at 7.30pm when the structure and the impact of the IHL will be laid out by the LHA.
The LHA have also announced that their annual finals will take place on the traditional March 17 date at Grange Road. Glenanne await the winner of Corinthian and Railway Union in the Mills Cup final.
In division two in Leinster, despite sitting fourth, Monkstown II are the one side with the title in their own hands and six wins in a row will secure the title.
They have not lost since game one of the campaign and will fancy their chances of extending the run to ten unbeaten when they meet YMCA II on home territory.
Three Rock II face another tough away day against Clontarf after last weekend’s win at Fingal. Gareth Borland’s bulls are the division’s top scorers by quite some way with Kevin and John Mullins in ruthless form, a test for Alan Bothwell and Peter McConnell in the Rovers’ defence.
Men’s Leinster division one (Saturday): Avoca v Pembroke, 12pm, Newpark; Three Rock Rovers vs Railway Union, 3.15pm, Grange Road; YMCA v Monkstown, 1pm, Milltown; Rathgar v Corinthian, 2.15pm, High School; Glenanne v UCD, 2.30pm, Glenanne Park
Division Two: Clontarf vs Three Rock Rovers II, 12pm, Mount Temple; Monkstown II vs YMCA II, 3.15pm, Rathdown