Glenanne have chance to clinch first Hockey League title this weekend
Win against second-place Lisnagarvey would secure title for Joe Brennan’s side
Lisnagarvey young gun Sean Murray in action for Ireland. Photograph: Freddie Parkinson/Inpho
Facing second-place Lisnagarvey on their home patch, though, is no mean task at the best of times without the potential white-line fever that comes with being so far ahead.
Joe Brennan’s side have nine points to spare over Garvey at the head of the division with three games left on their agenda and an unbeaten record.
The Ulster side, though, do have a game in hand and a result here could raise a couple of doubts in the Tallaght club’s minds for the final run-in.
Mental fortitude has been Glenanne’s calling card this season, though, winning a string of games with late goals, while nine wins by just a single goal show the ability to grind out results.
Chief among their highly functioning parts have been the dynamism of Sam O’Connor from the back, Iain Walker’s pad-work and Shane O’Donoghue’s powerful brilliance in midfield.
But it is the collective which has been the key to bringing them to the precipice of the title with this the earliest opportunity to get over the line.
Too many draws, though, has stymied their pursuit to leave them almost needing snookers.
Both sides are coming into the tie off the back of home defeats in the Irish Senior Cup, the Glens swept away late on by eventual champions Three Rock Rovers 5-1 while Garvey conceded twice in the first 10 minutes against Pembroke and never recovered.
Rovers and Pembroke meet again six days after their cup final encounter with the latter needing to pick up points to have a chance at the end of season Champions Trophy playoffs. Banbridge are in a similar boat when they meet Cork C of I.
At the other side of the table, bottom side Railway Union will very much be targeting a win in their home game against an Annadale side with not a whole heap to play for.
Alexandra College, meanwhile, is the venue all weekend for the first phase of the provincial playoffs with a spicy tie between Corinthian and UCD opening up the weekend. Five teams will battle it out for one place in the next stage of the promotion series.
The Leinster sides are joined by UCC, Instonians and Mossley, the latter picking up a last-minute ticket when Kilkeel declined their invitation. The Mourne Men’s club constitution does not allow them to play on Sundays and so precludes their involvement.
Bangor, YMCA and Bandon all received byes to stage two of the playoffs.
Saturday: EY Hockey League: Banbridge v Cork C of I, 2.45pm, Banbridge Academy; Lisnagarvey v Glenanne, 3pm, Comber Road; Railway Union v Annadale, 2.40pm, Park Avenue; Three Rock Rovers v Pembroke Wanderers, 3pm, Grange Road.
EYHL Wildcard Provincial Play-offs (all at Alexandra College): UCD v Corinthian, 10.15am; Mossley v Instonians, 11.45am; UCC v UCD, 1.30pm; Corinthian v Mossley, 3pm; Instonians v UCC, 4.45pm.
Sunday: EY Hockey League: Cookstown v Cork Church of Ireland, 2.30pm,Steelweld Park.
EYHL WIldcard Provincial Playoffs (all at Alexandra College): Mossley v UCD, 9.45am; Corinthian v Instonians, 11.15am; UCC v Mossley, 1pm; Instonians v UCD, 2.30pm; Corinthian v UCC, 4.15pm
Irish Junior Cup final: Glenanne II v Pembroke Wanderers II, 4pm, Three Rock Rovers
Munster Senior Cup final: Bandon v Limerick, 2.30pm, Garryduff
Munster Cork Cup final: Catholic Institute v Waterford, 12.30pm, Garryduff.