Saturday 10 December 2016

Olympic hopefuls face off in crunch collision

David Medcalf

Published 12/12/2015 | 02:30

Ireland Mens Hockey coach Craig Fulton
Ireland Mens Hockey coach Craig Fulton

Would-be Olympians will be in action in Dun Laoghaire this afternoon as Monkstown play Banbridge in the EY League.

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The home team have at least six players who hope to make the Ireland squad for next summer's Games.

And their northern visitors are equally well endowed, with a cast of internationals headed by Eugene Magee.

Yet, the game pitting reigning national champions against the cup holders is likely to be decided by the form of a couple of strikers who have dropped out of international contention.

Stephen Dowds, leading scorer with Ban' last season, has declared himself unavailable for selection by national coach Craig Fulton.

'Town' strongman Richard Sykes has similarly backed off from commitment to the Green Machine.

Normally his side's ace at the penalty corners, Sykes' return from the set-pieces has dropped in recent games, while Dowds has failed to match the stellar standard he set for himself in 2014/5.

The result is that the two teams are now playing catch-up behind Lisnagarvey in the league table.

Weather permitting, 'Garvey play at home today in Hillsborough where youthful Three Rock Rovers are the visitors.

Fixtures

Today

EY Hockey League

Men: Annadale v Cookstown, Carryduff 2.30; Railway Union v Cork CI, Park Avenue 2.30; Lisnagarvey v Three Rock Rovers, Comber Road 3.0; Monkstown v Banbridge, Rathdown School 3.0; Pembroke Wanderers v Glenanne, Serpentine Avenue 4.0;

Women: UCC v Hermes, The Mardyke 2.0; Cork Harlequins v Greenfields, Farmer's Cross 2.30; Pembroke Wanderers v Railway Union, Serpentine Avenue 2.30; Ulster Elks v Pegasus, Jordanstown 2.30.

Tomorrow

EY Hockey League

Women: UCD v Ards. Belfield 1.45.

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