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Hockey: Pembroke face friendly foe

Dublin clubs Pembroke Wanderers and Glenanne will spend the Easter weekend mixing with the elite.

But both teams face massive challenges as the Euro Hockey League enters its knock-out phase at Bloemendaal near Amsterdam.

Pembroke striker Maurice Elliott finds himself pitted against his good friend Ronan Gormley in tomorrow's game against Club de Campo of Madrid.

Irish captain Gormley was part of a mass exodus from Serpentine Avenue during the closed season.

He recently helped Campo to their first Spanish cup title since 2005 with a squad that also contains German, Argentinian and Dutch imports.

Such experienced opposition will certainly have plenty to teach Wanderers' home-grown Irish teenagers Kirk Shimmins and Mairtin Cronin.

Pembroke's chances are further hampered by the thumb injury that keeps masterful midfielder Paddy Conlon out of the action.

Coach Brendon Carolan concedes that Campo hold all the aces, including Gormley's insider knowledge of the line-up of the Irish champions.

South African Carolan reckons that Glenanne probably have a better chance of making progress to Monday's quarter-finals on this occasion.

While HGC have a formidable reputation, their recent form is not so good and they are languishing in the lower half of the Dutch league.

The Glens are not short of European know-how, with the likes of Graham Shaw, Joe Brennan and Czech international Filip Jaros in their line-up.

And Gormley is by no means the only exiled Irishman playing in the prestigious European tournament.

English clubs Beeston and Reading bring Ulster's David Ames and Chris Cargo respectively to the EHL's last-16 party.

Irish Independent