Monkstown will provide the acid test for Three Rock Rovers’ silverware aspirations
Former Wesley captain Mitch Darling (right) has been doing well up front for Three Rock Rovers, who will battle for Leinster Division One’s top spot tomorrow against fellow high-fliers Monkstown. Photograph: Eric Luke
Unbeaten Monkstown and Three Rock Rovers will battle for Leinster Division One’s top spot tomorrow in the biggest game of the fledgling season to date.
For Rovers, there are considerable emotional scars to heal as Town inflicted two big defeats on their south Dublin rivals last term.
Twice, they fought back from 3-1 down – in the Mills Cup final and the Irish Senior Cup semi-final – with Andy Ewington firing home a string of penalty corners both times.
First of the season
The powerful New Zealander nabbed his first of the season last weekend, while the forward line of Davy Carson, Andrew Ward and former Rover Kyle Good have made hay, netting 12 between them in just four games.
Coupled with the meanest defence in the league, they will be a serious test of whether Three Rock are ready to push on for silverware this season.
Up front, they do not appear to have too many problems, with Ireland senior internationals Peter Blakeney, Mitch Darling and Jonny Bruton combining well.
The addition of Paul Fitzpatrick to the coaching ticket has allowed co-coach Joe Brennan to spend more time on the playing field.
Marshalling of the defence
His marshaling of the defence will be imperative and the addition of Ireland U18 international Luke Madeley augments their options at the back.
On a well-matched weekend, UCD’s game with Pembroke has the potential for fireworks. In the past two seasons, the teams have amazingly shared two 6-4 scorelines, winning one a piece.
The students have had a slightly slower than expected start to the campaign given the influx of Irish internationals Peter Brown and Kirk Shimmins, the latter from Pembroke.
But their win over Corinthian last weekend shows their potential. Pembroke, though, have lots of know-how in their ranks, with captain Adam Pritchard a calming influence.
Make or break
At the bottom of the table, its make or break time for YMCA and Rathgar. With neither registering a win to date and three tough games each on the horizon, getting something from Milltown tomorrow is crucial to avoiding a long, cold winter.
Both picked off morale-building results in the Mills Cup last Sunday, with Rathgar netting nine against Dublin University, showing some potential in front of goal.