Lisnagarvey and Cork C of I clash for place in Irish Senior Cup semi-final

Neither side has won the national hockey tournament since 2005

Lisnagarvey are favourites after their recent 10-1 win over Mossley in the Ulster Premier League. Photograph: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Lisnagarvey and Cork C of I battle it out for the final place in the men’s Irish Senior Cup semi-finals on Saturday to kick-start the second phase of the season.

It pits the reigning Ulster and Munster champions against each other but Garvey go into the tie as clear favourites, especially in the wake of a mammoth 10-1 win over Mossley in the Ulster Premier league in midweek.

Garvey have under-achieved of late in the Senior Cup and – despite being the competition’s most successful side with 24 wins in world hockey’s oldest cup competition – they have not been in a final since 2006 and must go back another year to their most recent success.

Only a couple of players remain in the mix, with Timmy Cockram and Stevie Arbuthnot among a small list of survivors from that vintage but their new look side is a major contender this year.


Fledgling members

For C of I, their wait is even longer, harking back to 1999 when they beat Three Rock Rovers 4-3 in the decider. Player-coach

David Hobbs

was a fledgling member of that panel as was

John Jermyn

and their side still looks to that duo for much of their momentum from midfield and at penalty corners.

With six wins from six in their domestic league, C of I continue to be the leading light in Munster but three losses in succession in the Irish Hockey League are more revealing of their travails of late on the national stage. Whoever wins will join Pembroke, Railway Union and Banbridge in the finals weekend in late March.

Elsewhere, the race for places in the Irish Hockey League returns in earnest this weekend with the Leinster and Ulster leagues returning. In Dublin, the big match sees Three Rock Rovers hosting Pembroke.

World League

The latter will be without Austria international

Mathias Podpera

who returns to his homeland to join their World League round two preparations. They have a direct replacement in the form of ex-international and former Pembroke captain

Adam Pritchard

who returned after a year out just before Christmas.

Nick Burns

remains suspended, though.

Sunday sees the conclusion of the Leinster indoor league, a low-key affair following the IHA’s decision to award the national title to Ulster champions Queen’s with no Leinster side given the opportunity to contest the finals weekend due to the timing of the domestic competition.

Weekend Fixtures Saturday – Irish Senior Cup, second round: Lisnagarvey v Cork C of I, Comber Road, 2.45. Leinster League – Division One: Glenanne v Railway Union, Glenanne Park, 12.30; UCD v Corinthian, Belfield, 1.00; Rathgar v YMCA, High School, 2.15; Three Rock Rovers v Pembroke, Grange Road, 3.00; Avoca v Monkstown, Newpark, 4.15. Division Two: Monkstown v Clontarf, 2.30, Rathdown. Sunday – Leinster Indoor League (all at St Columba's College): 5.30: TRR v Avoca (semi-final); 6.30: Wicklow v Clontarf (placement game); 7.30: Railway Union vs semi-final winner.

Stephen Findlater

Stephen Findlater

Stephen Findlater is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about hockey