Two double-headers dominate the men’s landscape this weekend as top two Pembroke and Corinthian joust twice while Monkstown face a tough pair of matches against Fingal in fixtures which will go a long way to determining the success of their season.
Serpentine Avenue is undoubtedly the ground to be at on both days as Pembroke host Corinthian in the league and Mills Cup semi-finals.
December’s 2-1 win in Whitechurch Park for Corinthian threw the league open and remains the only points Pembroke have dropped this term. Last week’s draw, though, at YMCA ended a run of nine wins in the league for the reds and if they are to have any dreams of a maiden league crown, they will need to summon the immense defensive effort from Andrew Cronje and his cohorts.
The pace of Chris Pelow, Davy Carson and Darren Kimfley means they will always have a chance on the counter-attack, a style of play that has frustrated Pembroke’s natural instinct to do the same.
Nonetheless, the ‘Broke will always be clear favourites with Alan Sothern continuing to score goals for fun and Justin Sherriff and Gordon Elliott back in the panel after pre-Christmas breaks.
Their additional squad size could also play a factor in the back-to-back nature of the weekend.
A win for Pembroke on Saturday will see them top for the first time this term while Sunday’s cup tie could go some way to avenge last year’s hotly contested Mills’ final which the reds nabbed in extra-time.
Monkstown, meanwhile, desperately need the three points to stay in touch with the race for an IHL-berth. ALSAA is never an easy place to visit and David Bane is back for Fingal after serving an internal ban for the game against Pembroke last week.
The northsiders, bouyed by their win over Glenanne and only conceding in the very late stages against Pembroke, have worked on an ultra-deep press which is becoming an effective method on the continent for dealing with the auto-pass ruling.
They may need to make more of the play against the Town but hitting the likes of Tom Manning or the evergreen Adrian Sweeney is a fruitful avenue.
The significant change of speed in surface from Saturday to Sunday will be an intriguing factor as cup action switches to Serpentine Avenue.
At the bullring, Clontarf face their very last chance to stage a dramatic escape from relegation as they face UCD. The students were not as sharp as recent times without skipper Tim Hill and player-coach John McInroy. The latter may return after sitting out the colours game in midweek but Irish Uni’s Karl Smith will be a big miss in midfield, having moved to Australia for the remainder of the season.
Elsewhere, Glenanne face Railway Union for the second time in a week, hoping for an easier ride than they were given at St Mark’s on Sunday.
In division two, Suttonians can re-establish their place at the top of the charts. They travel to King’s Hospital to Navan, a side who have caused the Dubliners more than their fair share of problems this season. Given debate on the blog, the fixture could also serve as a trial match for the Leinster Junior side with numerous names put forward for the representative side.
Dublin Uni, meanwhile, will look to bring the positives from the colours defeat through to their game with Bray. Craig Moore is a doubt through illness but are at full strength otherwise and will aim to recreate the 9-1 win at the same venue in January. Simon Cox, among others, was absent that day and always provides a threat when available.
Men’s Division One (Sat) Fingal v Monkstown, 2pm, ALSAA; Railway Union v Glenanne, 2.45pm, Park Avenue; Clontarf v UCD, 2pm, Mount Temple; Pembroke v Corinthian, 2pm, Serpentine Avenue
Men’s Division Two (Sat) Navan vs Suttonians, 12.30pm, King’s Hospital; Dublin University vs Bray, 12.30pm, Grange Road (Tues): Dublin University vs Suttonians, 7.30pm, Grange Road
Leinster Senior Mills Cup, semi-finals (Sun) Monkstown vs Fingal, 1.15pm, Serpentine Avenue; Pembroke Wanderers v Corinthian, 3pm, Serpentine Avenue
Irish Junior Cup, second round (Sat):
Monkstown vs Kilkeel, 3pm, Rathdown; Cookstown vs Glenanne, 4pm, Coolnafranky