Men’s EYHL set for final pre-Christmas twist

The men’s EY Hockey League is set for its last pre-Christmas twist with four of the top five meeting each other on week ten of the competition.

Third hosts first as Lisnagarvey welcome Glenanne to Comber Road with the latter returning to the top last weekend courtesy of Shane O’Donoghue’s 15th goal of the campaign on the buzzer against Annadale. Remarkably, he has scored their last five goals across league and Irish Senior Cup.

Garvey left St Andrew’s empty-handed on the opening day of the season as David Lawless produced a fine debut between the posts and they had a goal ruled out. The Glens used that result to kickstart a run of five successive wins and while they had a stumble, they have ground out three wins in succession by a single goal.

The Ulster side, meanwhile, took out their scoring touch on Newry in midweek in the Kirk Cup with hat tricks for Ben Nelson and Troy Chambers in an 11-0 success. Ollie Kidd is in Portugal for the U-21 Euro indoors.

Banbridge host Monkstown in a contest between fifth and fourth. Louis and Charlie Rowe both picked up the McCullough Cup this week with Banbridge Academy to add to their impressive seasons to date with their club on a good run of 10 points from the last 12 on offer.

On day one, Town grabbed a late equaliser through Geoff Cole’s cracking goal to make it 1-1. The south Dublin side have only lost once this season on the national stage but four draws has kept them just off the top three thus far.

At Serpentine Avenue, Pembroke meet YMCA having won two of their last three games. While the Dublin 4 side remain in the relegation zone on goal difference, they are back in the frame and a win here would lift them level on points with sixth-placed Annadale. Player-coach Alan Sothern is still under assessment over an injury which will keep him out of this one.

YM won the first meeting 5-3 as they regularly found the highest forward in behind the back; they had to wait until last weekend for the second win of the campaign. Ross Henderson was a key influence that day and he returned last week after a month out. The Y will be without Harry McCarthy and Ben O’Grady on Irish Under-21 indoor duty.

Three Rock Rovers meet UCD for a third time this season in a meeting between the top scorers and the highest conceders with the former scoring 13 times in the previous two ties across the Mills Cup and EYHL. They will, however, be without the emerging Ben Ryder while Mark Samuel and Ben Johnson are injury concerns.

Annadale’s match against Corinthian has been pushed back to late January.

There is also a series of Irish Hockey Challenge fixtures with Galway hosting Limerick in Group 1, Midleton face Naas and Waterford against Wicklow in Group 2 and Saintfield playing Armagh in Group 3.

On the women’s side, Cork Harlequins and Muckross face off in the one EYHL game on the agenda, a huge battle with both sides needing to get their first win on the board if they are to have a chance at bridging the gap to the safety of eighth place.

Harlequins welcomed back Cliodhna Sargent for their tie against Pembroke to the fold last Saturday and she brings a wealth of experience to their young side.

The two sides drew on day one of the season with both sides scoring near identical goals from penalty corners from the injection area, Michelle Barry and Laura Hanlon hitting the net.

Since then, Muckross have had the tighter defence but both sides have found the going tough in front of goal, scoring five goals between them since that contest.

It is the last 16 phase of the women’s Irish Hockey Challenge from nine different counties aiming to make it through to the final eight line-up.

Saturday 11th December 2021
EYHL Division 1:
Banbridge v Monkstown, Havelock Park, 4pm; Lisnagarvey v Glenanne, Comber Road, 2.30pm; Pembroke v YMCA, Serpentine Avenue, 4pm; Three Rock Rovers v UCD, Grange Road, 1pm

Irish Hockey Challenge
Group 1:
Galway v Limerick, Dangan Sports Ground
Group 2: Midleton v Naas, Midleton College, 3.30pm; Waterford v Wicklow, Newtown, 2pm
Group 3: Saintfield v Armagh, Saintfield Cricket Club, 2.30pm

EYHL Division 1:
Cork Harlequins v Muckross, Farmers’ Cross, 12.45pm

Irish Hockey Challenge – Round 2: Athlone v Weston, Athlone RC, 1pm; Blackrock v Wicklow, Blackrock 2.30pm; Clonakilty v Gorey, Clonakilty, 2.30pm; Enniscorthy v Cork Wanderers, Astro Active, 12.30pm; Greenfields 2 v Bangor, Dangan, 2.15pm; NICS v Mullingar, Stormont, 1pm; NUIG v Portrane, Dangan; Wexford v Kilkenny, Loreto Wexford, 2pm