Hockey: Monkstown eye end to final frustration
Four teams desperately hungry for success descend on Belfield at the weekend in the quest to win the Irish Senior Cup.
Annadale have never brought a national senior title back to Belfast since the club was founded 43 years ago. Banbridge have not laid hands on the old trophy since 1986, and Cookstown's last cup triumph was in the following year.
Yet no side is more motivated than Monkstown, whose name has been absent from the roll of honour since 1914.
The appetite of the modern generation has been whetted by the frustration of two losing finals in the past three seasons.
This time they carry not only the burden of their own ambition into the concluding stages of the competition.
The Dun Laoghaire outfit are also the last remaining standard bearers for southern hockey on the cup stage after a long run of Ulster non-achievement.
It was back in 2005 that Lisnagarvey of Lisburn chalked up their last win, since then Cork Harlequins came out on top in 2006, while Glenanne and Pembroke Wanderers have both taken the honour twice.
As they count down to Saturday's semi-final with Banbridge, Monkstown coaches Rob Mason and David Cole have fingers crossed that Fran Lee and Nick Dee will recover from injury.
A squad of 22 has been named for the weekend, reflecting an enviable depth of talent in the club. They have already taken Leinster's top knockout trophy, the Mills Cup, this season, but that will not impress Banbridge.
The Down men are fresh from winning the Kirk Cup in their own back yard.
They too have their share of injury problems but a couple of very exciting teenagers -- midfielder Matthew Bell and striker Peter Brown -- have taken advantage to break into the side.
The semi-finals will be played on Saturday, with Sunday's final taking place at the UCD venue at 3.30, followed by an international fixture between Ireland and Canada.