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Hockey: Harte facing late fitness test

Holders Pembroke Wanderers emerge from hibernation to commence the defence of the Irish Senior Cup on Saturday.

The Dubliners face the humble challenge of Bangor, second from bottom in the Ulster league.

There is bad news on the double for the unfancied visitors to Serpentine Avenue. Seasoned strikers Gordon Elliott (injury) and Justin Sherriff (honeymoon) are both back in action for Pembroke.

However, goalkeeper David Harte has been carrying an injury. Frenchman Anto Bruneaux will deputise between the posts if Ireland's No 1 fails a fitness test.

Player coach Craig Fulton reckons there could be cup shocks on Saturday as sides have been disrupted by the snow and ice.

However, Harte or no Harte, it is hard to imagine that his charges will have their grip on the venerable trophy loosened by Bangor.

A more likely upset is in prospect at Milltown where YMCA play 2006 cup winners Cork Harlequins. The Leesiders, featuring Black brothers Jason and Mark, are favourites to progress but they are chronically short of serious match practice.

YMCA, on the other hand, are growing in confidence under the astute coaching of Trevor Dagg. They also have a wonderful shot-stopper in the form of Irish panellist Iain Walker. And the emergence of Jacob Webber as a short corner marksman of substance gives them an added reason for approaching their cup tie with confidence.

Irish Independent