Lisnagarvey head to Dublin on Friday with one objective –to bring the Irish Senior Cup back to their Hillsborough base.
The cup was once regarded as their property after they won it seven times on the trot. But since then, they have only won it three times in 19 seasons, their last coming back in 2005.
As Ulster’s only remaining side in the competition, Garvey will face Pembroke Wanderers, last year’s finalists, in Saturday’s opening semi-final. Followed by the all Leinster clash between holders Monkstown and Railway Union.
The Leinster league is already wrapped up with Monkstown topping the table and they would be favourites to land the trophy again.
But Garvey coach Errol Lutton, whilst managing to avoid Monkstown, knows that he faces a Pembroke side that will be out to stop the trophy heading North. And preparations just haven’t gone Garvey’s way.
“It was disappointing not having a game on Tuesday night, as we also didn’t play last Saturday, due to an Irish training weekend and our last competitive game was three weeks ago,” said Lutton.
“But most of the guys have plenty of pitch time as some of the guys were involved in the recent Under 21 interpros and the 4-Nations and then some of the others were at the Irish training camp. It’s just that we haven’t played as a squad recently.
“We have been doing our homework on Pembroke. They are a very good side with some good players in their team but we are also a good side and have the players that can produce the goods.
“We have no injury concerns, Daniel Buser is back in the squad and all the players are back from all the recent competitions uninjured.”
Was Lutton glad that Pembroke came out of the hat?
“It really doesn’t matter who came out of the hat at this stage. The three other teams are very good sides and no matter who you get at this stage of the competition they will be a difficult team and all you can do is prepare well for it,” he said.
For Sean Murray, Daniel Nelson and James Lorimer, this will be their first ISC semi-final. But already these players have proved they can produce the goods in the major games on the day.
However, if Garvey are to lift the coveted Trophy, it will be the experience of Mark Raphael, Jonny Bell and Timmy Cockram that will be crucial to take Garvey all the way.
Meanwhile, there are a couple of important Premiership games. Banbridge could increase their lead at the top of table as they will be expected to take maximum points against bottom of the table Raphoe.
And Belfast Harlequins will also be hunting for points against Cookstown as the Deramore Park side push for the remaining IHL qualification slot.
In the midweek games Greg Allen notched up his 100th goal for Cookstown in the Reds 3-2 win against Instonians. And Banbridge leapt to the top of the Premiership, in their 8-1 mauling of Civil Service, which included two goals from Irish international Eugene Magee.