Full series of EYHL2 fixtures will see contenders emerge

An stronger idea of who will be involved in the shake-up for EY Hockey League places next season will move closer after Saturday with a full series of Division 2 fixtures on the agenda.

In addition, there is a vital men’s top tier meeting between Corinthian and Annadale while Muckross and Pegasus meet in an Irish Senior Cup quarter-final postponed from before Christmas.

Looking at the one top tier EYHL game, Corinthian and Annadale sit just outside the relegation places and will be hoping to use this tie to give them a bit more breathing room.

They drew 3-3 on the opening day of the season with Chad Futcher scoring twice for the reds; he has since returned to South Africa and they will miss his impressive drag-flicks – scoring six in total – and long overheads.

Dale are three points better off and a third victory of the season would see them put six points between them and the drop zone.

In EYHL2, the tension is ramping up in the group stages, particularly in a very tight Pool 1 where just one point covers the top three places. Cork C of I lead the way on goal difference and they meet third placed Railway Union.

Both are leading their regional leagues but have not it all their own way of late. C of I needed a late Rob Sweetnam to win at Catholic Institute in Munster to win 2-1 and stay top. Railway scraped by Dublin University and Portrane before losing their unbeaten record at the hands of Clontarf.

Instonians, meanwhile, host Rathgar who have yet to land a point in the competition.

Similarly, there is nothing between the sides in Pool 2 with Cork Harlequins, Kilkeel and Clontarf drawing all the games they have played so far.

This time out, Clontarf host Kilkeel with the Bulls in red-hot form with nine games unbeaten in Leinster, most recently beating Dublin Uni in midweek 5-0 with a Sam Grace hat trick. Kilkeel, meanwhile, have been shading high-scoring battles, beating Queens 4-3 this week and Newry 5-4 either side of a 2-2 draw with Portadown.

Pool 3 has two clear leaders – Cookstown and Bandon – with a maximum 10 points from two games on their record but that will not remain beyond Saturday with the two clubs meeting in west Cork.

Mossley and Portrane will look to kickstart their potential chances of reaching the playoffs when they face off at The Glade.

On the women’s side, it’s a similarly vital moment in the EYHL2 season. Leaders Ards are on the bye weekend and so chasers UCC and Corinthian will see their meeting at the Mardyke as vital.

NUIG and Queen’s are in EYHL2 action. Picture: Billy Pollock

The students are on seven points and five above the reds but the Dubliners have only played one game thus far due to a frozen-out fixture before Christmas which leaves them ground to catch-up and seven games remaining.

Galway and Trinity, meanwhile, are seeking their first win of the campaign when they meet in Dangan and needing a result to keep their chances of a playoff spot alive.

In Pool 2, with runaway leaders Monkstown on a break, it is a great chance for all four of the sides to put themselves in the frame for a playoff place.

Cork C of I and NUIG are both seeking their first win of the league having drawn with Lurgan in earlier rounds. The Cork side have been in excellent form in Munster, moving top of the table and reaching their regional cup semi-final with a 5-0 away win over Bandon.

Queen’s will strengthen their hold on second significantly if they can win their meeting with Ulster rivals Lurgan on Saturday. Queen’s have made strong moves in 2022 with healthy wins over Dungannon (5-0) and Raphoe (2-0) lifting them five places in the table, one spot behind Lurgan but with two games in hand.

In the women’s Irish Senior Cup, Muckross are hoping to overturn their EYHL 3-1 defeat to Pegasus when they meet at Grange Road. Both are aiming to join UCD and Pembroke in the final four with Banbridge and Catholic Institute’s date now refixed for February.

Sunday sees the latest round of matches in the male underage interprovincials with Munster and Leinster meeting in a triple-header at Three Rock.

Elsewhere, the draws were made for the men’s and women’s Irish Junior Cups and the women’s Irish Hockey Challenge with the men’s playoff places also confirmed.

Saturday 29th January 2022
EYHL Division 1:
Corinthian v Annadale, Whitechurch Park, 3.15pm

EYHL Division 2
Pool 1:
Instonians v Rathgar, Shaw’s Bridge, 3pm; Railway Union v Cork C of I, Park Avenue, 1.30pm
Pool 2: Clontarf v Kilkeel, Mount Temple, 1.30pm
Pool 3: Bandon v Cookstown, Bandon GS, 1pm; Mossley v Portrane, The Glade, 2.45pm

Irish Senior Cup, quarter-final:
Muckross v Pegasus, Grange Road, 2.30pm

EYHL Division 2
Pool 1:
Galway v Trinity, Dangan, 1pm; UCC v Corinthian, Mardyke, 2pm
Pool 2: Cork C of I v NUIG, Garryduff, 2pm; Queens University v Lurgan, Malone Playing Fields, 12.45pm

Sunday 30th January 2022
Interprovincial series
Munster v Leinster, Grange Road, 3pm
Under-18: Munster v Leinster, Grange Road, 5pm
Under-21: Munster v Leinster, Grange Road, 4pm

National cup draws
Irish Junior Cup semi-finals:
Cookstown v Bangor; Banbridge v YMCA
Irish Hockey Challenge, quarter-finals: Limerick v Midleton; Waterford v Mullingar
Semi-finals: Winner of QF 1 v Portrush; Winner of QF 2 v Saintfield

Irish Hockey Challenge semi-finals:
Bangor v Wexford; Clonakilty v NICS
Irish Junior Cup semi-finals: Pembroke v Queens; Corinthian v Railway