Men’s hockey: Battle for playoff places hots up

Leaders Lisnagarvey face third-placed Banbridge, while Monkstown go to Pembroke

Anyone in doubt about whether Ireland will be capable of going to Rio and turning a few heads will have been comforted by Lisnagarvey's victory over Monkstown in Rathdown at the weekend.

The match may have been a low-scoring one, Lisnagarvey's 1-0 win consolidating their place at the top of the EY Irish Hockey League, but the volume of international players on view from both sides made it a high-quality encounter, as Ireland's world coach of the year Ned Craig Fulton looked on.

Monkstown remain in second place and on track for the Irish Hockey Champions Trophy playoffs, which will take place in Banbridge this year.

With the top three league teams qualifying along with the Irish Senior Cup winners, it's the third-place league slot that looks likely to be the most contentious as teams go into the weekend of April 30th-May 1st to see who can carry away the trophy and represent Ireland in Europe.

Banbridge are in third but face Lisnagarvey in Hillsborough this weekend. A slip up there could play into Glenanne's hands, who host Cookstown.

But there's still much to play for and Monkstown's trip to Pembroke in Ballsbridge is also a sticky one this weekend.

Fifth-placed Three Rock Rovers, who surprisingly fell to lowly Annadale last time out, have a job to get back up the table with an away game against Railway Union.

The Irish Senior Cup takes place later this month, with Glenanne facing Monkstown and Lisnagarvey playing Three Rock Rovers. At least two of those clubs may seal their place in the Champions Trophy playoff weekend in Banbridge by winning the cup.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times

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