Ulster’s three only home playing Irish Internationals will bow out of domestic hockey for at least the next three weeks, as they head off to the Champions Challenge in Argentina next week.
That means that Lisnagarvey’s Timmy Cockram and Instonians, Paul Gleghorne will be watching the top clash of the day from the sidelines, when Garvey entertain Inst at their Comber Road base.
And Bruce McCandless will miss Banbridge’s trip to Civil Service at Stormont.
Garvey are the only team that has defeated high-flying Inst but that was back in the group stages of the Kirk Cup. And since then Inst have gone five straight wins, notching up 23 goals on the way.
It is 14 years since Inst won Ulster’s top flight league and since the leagues restructured back in 2001, whenever the Premiership was formed, they have had to watch Annadale, Cookstown and Garvey dominate the Keightley Cup.
This week Inst coach, Mark Irwin, who has taken his team to the top of the premiership, will not only be without his Irish international Gleghorne but he has injury concerns around William Robinson, James Corry and Matthew Johnston, for this important clash.
Apart from missing Cockram, Garvey coach, Kyle Lunn will have a full strength squad available and after crashing out of the Irish Senior Cup, Lunn will be anxious not to let Inst leave Comber Road with any points.
Undefeated Bann take a near full strength side to Stormont, where they face Civil Service. Service have lost three of their last four league games and this week they will be missing Alan Hay and it could be defeat number four coming up.
Ulster champions, Cookstown welcome an unchanged Harlequins to Coolnafrankey.
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