Three Rock Rovers and Cork C of I will give each other a major test of their playoff credentials in the men’s EY Hockey League when they meet at Grange Road on Saturday.
Both sides have not been beaten since the opening day of the season and have impressed in the opening half of the season. This kind of match, though, is crucial to both of their hopes if they are to sustain a push for the top three and staying in touch with Monkstown and Banbridge.
It has not been a particularly happy hunting ground for C of I in recent years, falling 5-0 two seasons ago before coming unstuck last term 4-3 despite a John Jermyn hat trick.
But the Garryduff side look like they have an extra steel to them this season while Jermyn’s free-scoring has been significantly augmented by Julian Dale.
Their panel has been strong enough to keep former international David Hobbs out of the line-up with strength in each quarter. For Rovers, Ravin Nair showed he can be a key player last weekend with some cracking tackles against Banbridge in the Irish Senior Cup following his move from Railway Union.
Monkstown will look to maintain their place at the top of the table when they host the erratic Glenanne at the Merrion Fleet Arena. Both have beaten Lisnagarvey in the last two weeks to show their teeth.
And the Tallaght side have something of a relish for hitting Town on the counter-attack, shown to devastating effect last season in a 3-2 home defeat in the equivalent fixture in which Sam O’Connor excelled.
As such, the hosts will probably expect for Glenanne to sit deep and explode forward, a tactic they also used to good effect in their win over Garvey.
Banbridge have a test on their hands on Sunday when they go to UCD but if their midfield dynamo Hugh McShane and the box of tricks that is Owen Magee get going, it could make for an open affair.
The students are the great entertainers, scoring the third most but conceding the second highest total to sit in mid-table.
On Friday evening, Pembroke and Railway Union have brought forward their Dublin 4 derby with both sides looking to score an important result to move away from the relegation playoff area.
For Railway, Aran Rooney made his club debut in midweek in the Neville Cup after injury curtailed his first appearance since moving from Dublin University. Pembroke continue to be without Ronan Flannery.
Lisnagarvey take on Instonians, looking to end a run of five games without victory – four in the league, once in the cup – with Paul Gleghorne facing his former club. Inst, for their part, have a number of ex-Garvey men and will look to use some confidence from last week’s cup success against Annadale to cause an upset.
In Leinster Division One, Corinthian moved six points clear at the top of the table on Thursday evening with a 3-0 win over Avoca at Whitechurch Park.
Jonny Bruton opened the scoring in the first half with his 14th goal of the season before David Howard boosted his tally to 18 in the second half. Dan Treacy completed the win.
It means YMCA will look to close the gap back to three points in one of two games on Saturday when they host Kilkenny. The cats put it up to an EYHL side for the second time in a few days on Tuesday evening when they drew 2-2 with Railway in normal time in the Neville Cup before losing out in a sudden death shoot-out 5-4.
YM bowed out of the Neville Cup with a 2-0 loss to Monkstown. Rathgar host Dublin University in the other Leinster league tie in an important mid-table battle if either are to make a concerted push toward the playoff places.
Four Leinster sides remain in the Irish Junior Cup following UCD II’s elimination at the hands of reigning champions last Sunday. Three Rock, Railway, Pembroke and Glenanne hold the province’s hopes at the last 16 stage.
Men’s EY Hockey League
Friday: Pembroke v Railway Union, 8pm, Serpentine Avenue
Saturday: Monkstown v Glenanne, 2.30pm, Merrion Fleet Arena; Lisnagarvey v Instonians, 3pm, Comber Road; Three Rock Rovers v Cork C of I, 3pm, Grange Road
Sunday: UCD v Banbridge, 2pm, Belfield
Leinster Division One
Last Saturday: Fingal 1 (R Gannon) Clontarf 2 (T Noonan, J Lennon)
Last Sunday: Avoca 3 (J Elmes 2, J McCormack) Fingal 1 (S Dempsey)
Thursday: Corinthian 3 (J Bruton, D Howard, D Treacy) Avoca 0
Saturday: YMCA v Kilkenny, 2.30pm, Wesley College; Rathgar v Dublin University, 4pm, High School
Irish Junior Cup, second round
Last Sunday: Cork C of I 6 (S Dring 3, D Lynch, R Lynch, W Brownlow) UCD 1 (C Morrow)
Saturday: Cork Harlequins v Glenanne, 12.30pm, Farmer’s Cross; Annadale v Banbridge, 1pm, Carryduff; Instonians v Kilkeel, 1pm, Shawsbridge; Three Rock Rovers v Railway Union, 1pm, Grange Road; Pembroke v Lisnagarvey, 2pm, Serpentine Avenue; NICS v Bandon, 2.30pm, Stormont; South Antrim v Mossley, 4pm, Friends School
Neville Cup, quarter-finals: YMCA 0 Monkstown 2 (G Cole, D Carson); Kilkenny 2 (E Finnegan, E Walsh) Railway Union 2 (P Catchpole, K Springett), Railway on 5-4 in a shoot-out