Hockey: Crunch time for YMCA
Embattled YMCA face a key fixture on Saturday with a patched-up midfield as they entertain Railway Union at Milltown, WRITES DAVID MEDCALF.
YM's bright start to the season has not endured into the new year and their place in Leinster's top four is beginning to look shaky.
The loss of several important players has hastened their slow slide down the table, with fast-improving Railway now nipping at their ankles.
Aussie James Burke has departed for France, while David Robinson and Andrew Walker are unavailable through injury.
In these circumstances, Johnny Bruton, normally a frontrunner, has been pulled back to patrol the midfield. And Alan Dale, another of the Australian contingent, is filling in for Robinson as sniper-in-chief at the penalty corners.
Meanwhile, national coach Paul Revington also has to plan around injuries as he and his squad return to Valencia in Spain for more warm-weather training.
The shrewd South African was already reconciled to the loss of defender Joe Brennan and goalkeeper Iain Walker.
Surgery on Brennan's knee and Walker's shoulder means that they are most unlikely to feature in next month's big Olympic qualifier in Dublin.
However, it is expected that captain Ronan Gormley (ankle), John Jermyn (back) and Peter Blakeney (calf) will be back in contention.