Friday, November 20, 2009

IHL places up for grabs as IHT kicks into gear

Corinthian’s win at Three Rock last week, allied to a resurgent YMCA, means the race for the five IHL places for 2010/11 may not be as clear-cut as two weeks ago.

YM have joined the group of current encumbents in what is set to be a gritty battle for points in a six-horse race. And they can put their feet up and watch at least one of their fellow contenders drop points this weekend as Monkstown and Rovers face off for the second time this term.

Rovers have struggled up front since their 5-4 win over the Town at Grange Road five weeks ago. Peter Blakeney’s injury-induced role as an unused substitute in the past two games and Kyle Good’s absence have been factors, especially in the draw with YM where a toothless attack failed to take one of many first half chances.

Rory O’Donoghue’s side, meanwhile, earned their first clean-sheet against Fingal after a concession rate of three per game in the first half dozen league games and will hope this is a sign of things to come rather than a flash in the pan.

Their meeting is the second fixture to be brought forward from the inhospitable January 2 round of Leinster league matches – YM and UCD was the other – as Rovers head for a mid-season tournament in Barcelona at that time.

Corinthian will aim to build on their rare appearance at the top of division one with a home tie against Clontarf. UCD’s win over Railway last week makes the scavenge for points all the more pressing for the bulls but a trip to Whitechurch Park is far from ideal.

The Belfielders, meanwhile, begin the second half of their league campaign looking up with more expectation off the back of that win. John McInroy’s charges showed plenty of vigour in their Neville Cup outing against Fingal and, with some added confidence in front of goal; they will be looking at possibly jumping two places with a win.

Railway’s fixture with YMCA is postponed as the Park Avenue club competes in an indoor competition in Prague.

For division two’s participants, the Irish Hockey Trophy takes centre stage. Two former Glenanne players will look to add further feathers in their coaching caps in a competition dominated in its inaugural season by Ulster clubs.

Alan Browne (pictured, below left) has brought an increased level of commitment to Weston with video analysis and regular match day squads of 16 becoming the norm rather than the exception to reinvigorate the Lucan club. They welcome Galway to Griffeen Valley Park following their feisty tie at Armagh earlier in the month.

Browne’s former team-mate, Frank Byrne, has been a bit more of a surprise package with Suttonians who were less feted at the season’s start.

However, the diminutive forward has forged a combative side with James Murtagh a quality keeper at the base of the team and Richie Wormold always a handful in division two.
They host Ulster Senior One’s basement side Down.

Avoca, meanwhile, have the toughest draw of the lot, playing an Aaron Gill-inspired NICS. Gill had been in rude-scoring form for the Stormont club, who currently occupy the position of Trophy favourites, and brings plenty of top level experience from his time with Instonians and the Irish U-21s.

Dublin Uni have produced some famous cup results in Ulster in the past decade for their trip to Antrim to not be a total write-off. Navan host a Cliftonville side with former Irish international Julian Stevenson in tow as player-coach.

Saturday fixtures:
Men's Division One:
UCD vs Fingal, 1pm, Belfield; Corinthian vs Clontarf, 1pm, Whitechurch Park; Monkstown vs TRR, 1.30pm, Rathdown

Irish Hockey Trophy: Queens v Portadown, 2.30pm, Queens; Suttonians vs Down, 1pm, Sutton Park; Belfast Harlequins vs UCC, 1pm, Deramore Park; Antrim vs Dublin University, 1pm, Antrim Forum; Catholic Institute vs Newry, 2pm, Rosbrien; NICS vs Avoca, 2.30pm, Stormont; Navan vs Cliftonville, 12.30pm, King's Hospital; Weston vs Galway, 2.30pm, Griffeen Valley Park


Anonymous said...

chance for clontarf to do some damage to a complacent corinthians team after what was a good win for them last week .it will be interesting to see how it plays out as clontarf have been improving week to week

Anonymous said...

How does 12:18 know whether Corinthians are complacent or not. That is just a strange comment to be making. I am sure it will be a very high tempo, high scoring game with both teams seeming to be able to score alot of goals this season. Good luck to both teams.

Anonymous said...

Clontarf and Corinthian should be a close enough game, but with chc's fire power up front it should be won by 2 or 3. Town and Three Rock should be even closer, Lots at stake in that particular game, with a win giving a huge boost to a garunteed top 5 finish and the all important IHL.
I have a funny feeling the students could pull off a win, Fingal and water based pitches have never gone down to well.

Anonymous said...

12:18 a comment to stir the pot..put your name to it the next time and man up...

Complacent....right yeah...

From what I have seen, they are playing hockey, getting on with it and getting into a good league position before the Christmas break...

Granted we have two major teams to come back into the league play and they will make a different to the league positions..

Now is the time to get into a comfortable position in the league...i.e. the top half, like Rovers, Monkstown and Corinthians are doing...

Complacent..not the right word..

Johnny G.

Richie W said...

Hey Stephen, totally off the subject but was looking at the Div 5 table on the leinster hockey website to see how Skerries were doing and it appears that they've not played any matches. Any idea what has happened to them??

Anonymous said...

Skerries went into division 6 first but after they'd won a few games 10-0 they were told they'd to go back into div 2, they weren't too happy with this, far as i can gather, and the branch decided div 5 would do them.....or at least i think thats what happened.

(S.Quinn-Navan no.15)

Anonymous said...

why do people think Tarf will run the team who are top of the table close? i read here that they lost to Sutton a few weeks ago...why would a result like that lead people to think they have a chance against a Corinthian side, complacent or not!

Anonymous said...

everyweek we hear that clontarf are going roll over one of the big ones. There is no evidence to back this up as they have only ran Fingal close and got a lucky point against UCD. If they lose on Sat that will be 1 point out of a possible 27 - with their keeper being MOTM is most games.

I actaully think their the margins will get wider. In previous years, if promoted teams do not get points early from having the surprise factor they get hammered in the 2nd half of the season because players begin to lose heart and stop training on the really cold winter nights.

Its not all doom and gloom however as Railway are very poor but have 4 points. Clontarf also score goals..but at the other end they are shipping way too many - similarities with Trinity when they were relegated as the highest goals for in Div 1 - with Peter as top scorer.

Anonymous said...

Skerries took themselves out of div 2 and were put in Div 6. They were hammering everyone in that league so now put in div 5 since last week. Lot of back matches!!

Anonymous said...

Trinity never got relegated with peter blakeny in the team

Anonymous said...

Dear 7.23, thanks for your possitive approach towards new arrivals in your league. Although having, a predicted tough time, the Tarf is not going to loose heart on those 'really cold' winter nights ! We were good enough to win div. 2 and have to step up to the mark and see if we can stay up. That is all, and it is tough. Easy to judge when you are in a position not to 'win anything or to loose too much' = comfort zone, no pressure. We have the guts to take it on and do our best, maybe it is good enough, maybe not. We cannot do anymore.
Harrold, Clontarf coach.

Anonymous said...

I have to say,having played both teams recently, i predict Corinthians to beat Clontarf by atleat 6 clear goalls..

Anonymous said...

Reds were pretty sloppy in the 1st half today against Tarf & were lucky to go in just 1 down at the break.

Steadied the ship in the 2nd half to run our 5-1 victors though.

Anonymous said...

Goooooooo college!!