St Andrew’s and Alexandra College begin a hectic run of school’s cup finals this afternoon in the blue riband event in the Leinster girl’s hockey calendar.
The pair contest the Senior Cup final this afternoon (Grange Road, 2.30pm) with a place in the Kate Russell Cup on offer for the victor.
Andrew’s, as reigning champions, have the pedigree and with Ireland A internationals Chloe Watkins skippering the team and Gillian Pinder’s creative instincts, they have serious quality.
Niamh Atcheler, a current member of the Irish senior set-up, is a doubt to take up her regular role at the heart of the defence, though, after sustaining a leg injury in last Wednesday’s semi-final.
Alexandra College, league champions last year, arrive to the party after a hectic week for some of their main players.
Underage internationals Emily Beatty and Deirdre Duke were both part of the school’s soccer team who claimed the Leinster crown with a 4-1 win over Eureka, Kells last Friday – a fixture sandwiched in between the hockey semi-finals and club IHL commitments.
The side is built around the staunch defensive work of Nicola Gray – also a formidable corner option – and Lenehan’s Kate and Leah.
The first ever boy’s Senior Trophy final will be played on Wednesday with High School taking on Kilkenny in Rathfarnham.
Ireland U-18 star Shane O’Donoghue guides High School from the sweeper role, using his long-distance overheads to great effect in the semi-final win over Sutton Park and is backed up by fellow Glens’ man Gareth Carragher in nets.
Kilkenny, meanwhile, will hope to bring their Senior A status to bear with Howard McDonnell, Evan Matthews and Eoin Finnegan smart campaigners.
On the division one scene, this week sees a series of key fixtures in the race for the fourth automatic IHL place with Three Rock facing YMCA tonight at Grange Road before Monkstown continue their bid on Thursday night against UCD.
Three Rock showed their attitude for the fight against Lisnagarvey last weekend with Pierre de Voux and Patrick Shanahan truly stepping up to the mark.
A continuation of that form will make it a tough night for the YM defence though they have kept sharp-shooters of Alan Sothern and Stephen Butler’s calibre at bay in the past week.
Nonetheless, they are still awaiting a victory against any of the four sides ahead of them in the standings. While a draw would not be disastrous, all three points will certainly swing the pendulum very definitely one way or the other between these two side's aspirations.
School’s Cup final dates: Tuesday, March 2: Girl’s Senior Cup final, 2.30pm Wednesday, March 3: Boy’s Senior Trophy final; U-13 final, Junior final Thursday, March 4: Girl’s Senior Plate final (also Senior 1 and Junior D final) Friday, March 5: Boy’s Senior Cup, semi-finals - St Andrew's vs High School; Kilkenny vs Wesley Wednesday, March 10: Boy’s Senior Cup final; Minor Cup final Thursday, March 11: Girl’s Premier League final, Minor A Cup Monday, March 15: Girl’s 1st year, Minor B and D finals Tuesday, March 16: Girl’s Minor C, 1st year B, Senior 3 finals
Leinster Men’s Division One fixtures: Tuesday: TRR vs YMCA, 8pm, Grange Road Thursday: UCD vs Monkstown, 7.45pm, Belfield Saturday: Railway Union vs Fingal, 2pm, Park Avenue Tuesday, March 9: Monkstown vs Railway Union, 8pm, Rathdown