Pembroke off to Cork
Cork Harlequins' home tie with Pembroke Wanderers is the most appealing pairing in the fourth round of the Nissan-sponsored Irish Senior Hockey Cup on January 23rd. Both have been beaten finalists in recent years and have unvanquished records in league fare this season.
Apart from the sociability of the assignment, Pembroke will not relish the task at Harlequin Park, particularly if the elements are unrelenting. It was at this venue, though, that seven Pembroke players figured in Leinster's 2-1 defeat of Munster in the interprovincial championship in mid-October.
An irony is that while Munster went on to capture the title in a threeway shoot-out, their coach Simon Filgas also plots Pembroke's movements. Filgas therefore can make full use of his knowledge of Munster hockey in refining his tactics to foil Harlequins. Not least of the fascinations of the tie is that Ireland's top two goalkeepers Ivan Bateman, for the home side, and Nigel Henderson will be in opposition.
Another particularly tightly fought game will involve Avoca and Banbridge in Dublin. There were some tough matches between these two clubs in the years before Avoca finally won the trophy in 1996. In the only other Dublin contest, Glenanne will be aiming to reverse their recent surprise defeat by YMCA in the Leinster Senior Cup.
Of the four ties in Ulster, Annadale would seem a step or two ahead of Monkstown but Mossley are unlikely to survive if Three Rock Rovers travel with all cylinders firing. While the holders, Instonians, cannot under-estimate Cliftonville's challenge, Lisnagarvey are unlikely to falter against Raphoe, who are obliged to play away from home. Equally, Cork C of I will be too accomplished for Aer Lingus at Garryduff.