Final fever in Leinster and Munster with eight titles up for grabs

Its final fantasy time in Leinster and Munster with five finals set to take place at Grange Road on Saturday while there is a tranche of important showdowns in Munster and a trio of Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals on the card.

All this is in the hope that the weather does not wreak further havoc to the schedule with another cold one predicted across the country for the St Patrick’s weekend.

Railway Union’s Zara Delany celebrates during last year’s Jacqui Potter Cup final. Pic: Adrian Boehm

On the women’s side, Railway are playing in their sixth successive Jacqui Potter Cup final and looking for a fifth title since their maiden success in 2011 when they face UCD.

From that first win, Holly Jenkinson, Orla Fox, Kate Lloyd, Grace O’Flanagan, Emer Lucey, Cecelia Joyce and Kate Dillon are still available again on St Patrick’s Day.

Colm Blennerhassett, though, selected an Under-25 side for the semi-final against North Kildare and so could shuffle his deck once again for the decider.

They smashed an understrength UCD – who did not have access to their internationals – 7-0 last season. Miles Warren will be shy the services of Leah McGuire, Lena Tice, Katie Mullan and Ellen Curran who were in the Irish side who played two training matches against GB at Bisham Abbey during the week.

The students will have Deirdre Duke, however, following the conclusion of her exams along with Emma Russell and Clodagh Cassin. They beat Hermes-Monkstown on Wednesday evening in the semi-final with Katherine Egan scoring twice in the second half with Abbie Russell nabbing the other.

Another great addition to finals day is the ParaHockey blitz with Three Rock Rockets, Railway’s Railblazers and the Monkstown Strikers taking part. Loreto have also recently launched a ParaHockey section, adding to the number of clubs taking part.

The Junior Jacqui Potter Cup pits Railway Union against Muckross for a third successive year, something that is usually a great indicator of future talent coming through.

Enniscorthy contest the Junior Jacqui Potter Shield against Three Rock Rovers in a big day for the Co Wexford club.

Corinthian are in the Jacqui Potter Shield for a second successive year, looking to make amends for a final defeat a year ago against Trinity. This time around, they will be clear favourites against Division Two side Old Alex II who, incredibly, beat their first team en route to this final.

In the Mills Cup, Three Rock Rovers face Corinthian in a big Rathfarnham derby. While Rovers will be the fancied side, going well in the EY Hockey League, Corinthian have a better recent record with five final appearances in the last 10 seasons, winning in 2009 and 2015.

Rovers, meanwhile, have just one win in 20 years in the competition but have hoovered up three trophies already this term with Neville Cup, National Indoor Trophy and EuroHockey Indoor Challenge II golds.

Rovers won through to the final with a 3-1 win over Monkstown on Tuesday with John Mullins, Conor Empey and Daragh Walsh all scoring.

Corinthian’s Jonny Bruton won the Mills Cup title with TRR in 2014. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Jamie Carr, Ross Canning, Harry Morris, Ben Walker and David Kane were rested for that tie but some could play a part on a busy weekend with and Irish Senior Cup quarter-final on Sunday against Cork C of I also on their agenda – their fourth game in eight days.

For Corinthian, last weekend’s loss to UCD makes them potential outsiders in the Leinster Division One title chase with goal difference likely to prove crucial.

But their breathtaking win in the semi-final against Glenanne shows the damage Ian Stewart can do up top. There are plenty of returnees from the David Howard inspired 2015 vintage when they beat Glenanne 5-3 while Jonny Bruton will face his former club with whom he won the trophy back in 2014.

To the Irish Senior Cup and C of I will look to end their run of tough results against Three Rock on Sunday. The Garryduff side have impressed since Christmas, especially in light of the unavailabilty of Philip Sweetnam and Andrew Daunt while Alex Deane has gone on Erasmus to Spain.

Draws with league leaders Glenanne, 2016 national champions Lisngarvey and Annadale have seen them put six points between them and any relegation danger with John Jermyn leading the charge.

YMCA will test their EYHL credentials when they go up to Lisnagarvey, looking to add to their earlier win over Annadale in the Irish Senior Cup with Grant Glutz and Ben Campbell banging in nearly 50 goals between them. Glenanne vs Monkstown is the other outstanding last eight tie.

Down south, opportunity knocks on Sunday as the men’s and women’s Munster Senior Cup finals take place at Garryduff with the potential for new names to carve their names into the trophy.

The decision last summer of the EY Hockey League teams to be withdrawn from the provincial cups means the line-up has a fresh look to it with both reigning champions sitting it out.

On the men’s side, Cork C of I have been the dominant side in recent years but their absence means Bandon have the favourites tag when they host Limerick.

It is part of the west Cork side’s drive for a treble. With the league looking all but done and dusted, they also have an Irish Hockey Trophy semi-final to look forward to next week.

Clinton Sweetnam, Ali Smith – both capped by Ireland – and the David Smith give the side plenty of top-line ability and experience. Sweetnam has weighed in with plenty of corner goals while the latter Smith has been similarly prolific.

Conor Robinson, meanwhile, is one of the country’s most promising young goalkeepers. They face a Limerick side they beat a week ago 4-2 in the league at Villiers.

The Treaty City side’s young guns will be on a high, though, with Villiers’ Ger Hodkinson, Quinten Eacrett, Craig Morrow and Jannis von Maydell among those coming into the tie off the back of their Munster schools cup success. Neither side have won the competition before.

On the women’s side, with Cork Harlequins out of the game, Rosbrien’s Catholic Institute take on Bandon.

Insta were winners back in 2011 and have won it three times since with the likes of Christine O’Shea, Rosie Pratt and Kym Daly now looking to impart their know-how from that day onto a new generation. Chief among them is Laura Foley who was named in the Irish Under-21 panel this week.

Bandon are looking forward to both men and women’s Munster Senior Cup finals. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Like their men’s side, Bandon still have a couple of irons in the fire and this match-up will be replicated on March 24th in west Cork in the Irish Hockey Trophy semi-final.

It is part of a busy St Patrick’s weekend with Cork C of I facing Three Rock Rovers in the much delayed men’s Irish Senior Cup quarter-final at Garryduff.

Saturday 17th March 2018
Leinster Senior Mills Cup final: Three Rock Rovers v Corinthian, 12.30pm, Grange Road (front pitch)

Jacqui Potter Cup final: Railway Union v UCD, 3.15pm, Grange Road (front pitch)
Jacqui Potter Shield final: Corinthian v Old Alex II, 2.15pm, Grange Road (back pitch)
Junior Jacqui Potter Cup final: Muckross v Railway Union, 10.30am, Grange Road (front pitch)
Junior Jacqui Potter Shield final: Enniscorthy v Three Rock Rovers, 11.30am (back pitch)
Munster Division 1: Waterford v Cork Church of Ireland, 12.30pm, Newtown School
Munster Senior Plate – Final: Belvedere v UCC, 11.30am, Farmers’ Cross

Sunday 18th March 2018
Irish Senior Cup, Round 3: Cork C of I v Three Rock Rovers, 2.30pm, Garryduff; Glenanne v Monkstown, 2pm, St. Andrews College; Lisnagarvey v YMCA, 3pm, Comber Road.
Munster Senior Cup – Final: Bandon v Limerick, 4.15pm, Garryduff.

Munster Senior Cup – Final: Bandon v Catholic Institute, 12pm, Garryduff.

Partners of The Hook