Garvey and Town showdown pivotal in men’s EYHL title race

On the penultimate match weekend of the men’s EY Hockey League regular season, Lisnagarvey can potentially win the title should they get the best of Monkstown and Three Rock falter against YMCA.

The former is the meeting between the two sides currently on the best runs with Garvey picking up 19 from the last available 21 points to set themselves clear at the top of the table.

Town, meanwhile, have won all of their league games in 2022, making it six in succession for Eddie O’Malley’s side. They have done so despite a number of absentees with David Nolan, Nick Dee and Jazze Henry missing last weekend’s 4-1 win over YMCA, opening up an opportunity for John O’Hara and Josh O’Neill to make their first team debuts.

They have been defensively tenacious with David Fitzgerald exceptional between the posts last weekend against YM who created a number of big chances that required his full attention.

The sides served up a thriller at Rathdown before Christmas with Town winning 4-3 but Garvey have not lost since hit steamroller mode, scoring 18 times in the last four games. Ben Nelson is in line for a return to action.

Rovers will be keenly interested in the outcome from this tie while hoping to fulfill their half of the title-chasing bargain when they go to YMCA in a repeat of St Patrick’s Day’s Mills Cup final.

For the Y, they have missed Matthew Walker at the base of their defence with his foot in a protective boot. Their main issue has been giving opponents a big start, going 3-0 inside 21 minutes in that cup finals and 2-0 behind against Town last Saturday inside four minutes.

Both times, they rattled their south Dublin rivals but only after they had a big deficit to make up.

At the bottom, there is lots to ponder once again. Perhaps the central tie in this regard is Annadale’s hosting of Pembroke. The Ulster side will go mathematically safe if they emulate their result at Serpentine Avenue before Christmas when they won out 4-0.

It would be quite a turnaround for Dale to do that. Between early February 2019 and late October 2021, they endured 30 winless EYHL games in succession through the pandemic years but that result allied to two successes against UCD has them on the verge of staying up.

Pembroke will benefit from the return of Julian Dale after suspension and their comeback point against Corinthian a week ago has kept them in touch with Dale and Corinthian.

For the reds, they were kicking themselves that they could not see home their lead against Pembroke with only 40 seconds remaining. They will be further stymied with Peter Caruth likely to miss this week’s tie with Glenanne at St Andrew’s.

Glenanne, meanwhile, have an exceptionally busy spell on their agenda. After this game against Corinthian, they host Lisnagarvey on Sunday in the Irish Senior Cup semi-final and then play Three Rock Rovers on March 30th in their refixed league game.

Saturday 26th March 2022
Men’s EYHL Division 1:
Annadale v Pembroke, Lagan College, 1pm; Glenanne v Corinthian, St. Andrews, 1.30pm; Lisnagarvey v Monkstown, Comber Road, 2pm; UCD v Banbridge, Belfield, 1pm; YMCA v Three Rock Rovers, Wesley College, 2.15pm

Sunday 27th March 2022
Men’s Irish Senior Cup, semi-finals:
Glenanne v Lisnagarvey, St Andrews, 1.30pm; Monkstown v Cookstown, Rathdown, 4pm