Lisnagarvey determined to keep their grip on league leadership

After Saturday’s win over Three Rock Rovers, Garvey face Dublin 4 side Pembroke

After six rounds of hot potato, Lisnagarvey will hope to be the first side since November to hold onto the leadership of the men's EY Hockey League.

Their win last Saturday over Three Rock Rovers provided a significant statement of intent and the expectation, on paper, is they would back it up against ninth-placed Pembroke at home.

But the Dublin 4 side have already beaten third-placed Glenanne in 2022 while Alan Sothern has come back after injury to score six times in two games.

It is their travails at the far end that has left them vulnerable, conceding on average almost four a game. Garvey were shy the services of international star Ben Nelson last week, but his older brothers Matthew and Daniel bring further firepower while Ollie Kidd is maturing at serious pace.

Three Rock host Corinthian in the Marlay derby, with the former dropping back off first last week after a some serious rejigging of their forward line-up.

Ali Empey's Erasmus trip to Canada has been compounded by the unavailability of Ryan Spencer, Evan Jennings, Ben Johnson and Luke Adams at different times, leading to veteran Peter Blakeney dusting off his stick.

Mixed bag

Corinthian have had a bit of a mixed bag of late, drawing with a remarkable late salvo against Garvey before losing 6-1 at home to Monkstown as coach Brinsley Powell settles into the role full-time having arrived in Ireland in January.

Glenanne, level with Three Rock, have a real test when they go to Banbridge who – like Monkstown – are making a late charge for the top spots.

The Glens are another who have suffered with players away, while Bann host this one off the back of eight games unbeaten, with Louis Rowe looking like a prodigious talent in their forward line. The last loss, though, was against Glenanne in October.

At the bottom, there is a mathematical equation that could see UCD relegated by Saturday evening if everything conspires against them. Their only point to date came against YMCA and they will need to outdo that performance on Saturday at Wesley to keep hopes of a miraculous comeback alive.

For the Y, though, another victory would all but assure them safety, leaving Corinthian, Pembroke and Annadale in the scrap to avoid relegation.

Stephen Findlater

Stephen Findlater

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

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