Round 2 of the ESB Electric Ireland and Men’s Irish Hockey League are set to take centre stage this Saturday on hockey pitches across Ireland. Two matches have been postponed to the 26th November (Hermes v UCD; Railway v UCC) due to the college intervarsities also taking place this weekend.
In Pool A of the men Banbridge face Cork Harlequins who having met twice last year ,first in IHL then in Irish Senior Cup the teams will need no introduction to each other. Banbridge came out on top in both occasions and certainly look very strong again this season, having just come back from EHL duty where they narrowly failed to record a victory, they will feel confident of taking full points. Harlequins started this IHL campaign very well recently drawing 2-2 with Glenanne they will be hoping to avenge last seasons defeats. Again this week they are awaiting fitness on key players notably Dave Eakins and Philip Mc Laughlin with a limited squad it will be very important to have everyone available. Also in Pool A Glenanne will be travelling up the road to take on Instonians who will welcome the home territory after loosing on away soil in Round 1 against Monkstown.
The final game in this pool sees Cookstown without their captain Godfrey Irwin on Saturday after he sustained a fractured skull against Amsterdam in the EHL. This is a big blow to the county Tyrone side who will face top of the table Monkstown at Coolnafranky. Cookstown will also have their fingers crossed that schoolboys Ryan Millar, Matthew Rollins and Ian Sloan return from the Irish School injury free. Cookstown against Monkstown is a repeat of the 2011 Irish Senior Cup final and both teams started off the Irish Hockey League with wins at home.
On to pool B and it is Cork C of I against Lisnagarvey at 2.30 both teams had good results in round one and confidence will be high especially after Garvey had a 10-0 victory in their recent league match over North Down. Garvey have beaten C of I the last two times they have played one another so will be favourites going into this weekend’s fixture. C of I are currently going through a rebuilding phase but have a good mixture of youth with the likes of Clinton Sweetnam, Andrew Daunt, David Harvey and Alec Moffett mixed with the experience Nigel Buttimer, David Hobbs and Philip Smith.
Also in Pool B this will be the first time Three Rock have entertained Pembroke at Grange Road in the IHL under the present format. Three Rock will hope to bring back in some of the players that missed their 5-4 loss to Glenanne in Leinster last Saturday. Midfielders Craig Moore and Gavin Bourke look set to return having played in the first round of IHL matches against Annadale. A couple of schoolboys may have limited availability due to the All-Ireland schoolboy’s championships and could be rested as a result but confirmation of this will be delayed until closer to the tournament tip off. Pembroke, with a number of changes in their line up since last season, will have to focus on gaining maximum points from a young and improving Rovers Squad. Pembroke know what a determined and gritty squad Rovers have become this season and last. Pembroke, having shared the points at home with Cork C of I two weeks ago, know that they will have to convert any opportunities from set pieces through Alan Sothern in particular. Led this season by Ronan Flannery and containing several other regular IHL campaigners at the back and in midfield plus Sothern, Shimmins, Good and the Elliott brothers up front Pembroke may also have to snap up goals from open play if they are to challenge in this Seasons IHL.
This Saturday sees the second clash in three weeks between YMCA and Annadale. YMCA will be looking for revenge after the ISC loss up in Annadale and also will be hoping to put a run of three straight defeats behind them. While the previous meetings 4 -1 score line looked an easy win, it was far from that so predicting the outcome of this match will be difficult. YMCA are boosted by a return to the team by Andrew Walker who has been out with a calf injury. Annadale didn’t have a good IHL campaign last season, so following last week’s win against Three Rock Rovers in their first IHL match of this season, they are hoping to continue with their winning streak. It promises to be a tight and an exciting encounter.
On to the ladies and Old Alex face a tough match in Milltown this weekend as they take on Pegasus. Following from a disappointing opener against local rivals, Hermes, Old Alex will look to take the positives from that game and this time convert more of their chances. The underage Leinster representatives will be welcomed back into the squad to add to their pacey game. Pegasus sees the same squad stepping out onto the field with no changes from two weeks ago.
Armagh meanwhile will play hosts to Catholic Institute, which will be an interesting affair. Armagh recently lost to the students while Catholic Institute came out the wrong side of a 1-2 scoreline against Pegasus so both will be keen to register points on the board. In Pool B Cork Harlequins welcome Ballymoney to Harlequin Park while Loreto will entertain Lurgan at home.
Men Pool A
Banbridge v Cork Harlequins 13.00 Harlequin Park
Instonians v Glenanne 14.30 Shawsbridge
Cookstown v Monkstown 15.00 Coolnafranky
Men Pool B
Cork C of I v Lisnagarvey 14.30 Garryduff
Three Rock Rovers v Pembroke W 14.00 Grange Road
YMCA v Annadale 13.30 Alex College
Women Pool A
Old Alex v Pegasus 15.30 Alex College
Armagh v Catholic Institute 13.00 Ardmore
Women Pool B
Cork Harlequins v Ballymoney 13.00 Harlequin Park
Loreto v Lurgan 16.30 Loreto.
Postponed – 26th November
Hermes v UCD 15.00 Andrews
Railway Union v UCC 17.00 Park Avenue