Ulster champions Lisnagarvey still dreaming of IHL berth

Matthew Bell
Matthew Bell

Mathematicians are poised to work out who will reach next week’s Irish Hockey League play-offs as any two of four teams can reach the finals.

With Banbridge and Monkstown already booking their berths from Pool B, the outcome from the other Pool is far from conclusive.

In fact there are reckoned to be at least 20 permutations to the possible outcome between Lisnagarvey, Cookstown, Three Rock Rovers and Pembroke Wanderers.

Pembroke look favourites to reach the last four as a win or draw will take them through. Newly crowned Ulster champions, Lisnagarvey, must win against Cookstown if they want to book their spot.

Three Rock need to defeat Pembroke by two clear goals if they are to go through but Cookstown, they are the outside bet, as they must win at Garvey, but they also need other results to go their way to book that play-off spot.

It’s probably the best scenario the organisers wanted going into the final round and all channels of social media are expected to be red hot, as updates are pinged from the games. Lisnagarvey and Cookstown are expected to be at full strength for what promises to be a no-holds barred battle. Defeat for Cookstown will see their season over and the trophy cabinet bare.

Whilst Lisnagarvey will be hoping that they can add more silverware to theirs.

Meanwhile, there were a few raised eyebrows after Monkstown requested their game against Banbridge to be switched to Bann’s Havelock Park base – the venue of next month’s IHL finals.

After the IHA agreed to the switch, some observers questioned whether the move would give Monkstown an unfair advantage over the other two finalists who would not get access to pitch time before next week’s finals.

But the IHA insisted there were no concerns over the decision.

“Both Bann and Monkstown agreed with the switch and we (IHA) have no issue with it.”

Bann have a couple of injury concerns, Matthew Bell has picked up a knee injury and Josh Moffet may still be rested as he recovers from his injury.

In the remaining games with Ulster interest, both Instonians and Annadale are off to Cork where they play Harlequins and Church of Ireland respectively.

Their IHL campaigns are over, but they will both hope to finish with a win.

It’s Junior Cup finals day on Saturday with three finals to be decided and all the action is at Civil Service, Stormont.

Banbridge III’s and Kilkeel II’s will battle it out for the McClement’s Cup (2.30pm) with Antrim II and Cookstown VI’s competing in the Junior Shield Final (4.30pm).

Portrush II’s will be hoping to emulate their trophy winning 1st XI when they take on Portadown III’s in the Minor Cup Final (2.30pm).