Powerhouses set for semi title decider
A semi-final showdown between Glenanne and Pembroke could decide the fate of this year's Irish Hockey League at Grange Road, Dublin, over the weekend.
Glenanne are on a high after winning the Irish Senior Cup last Sunday when they beat Monkstown 4-1, with two goals from set-piece specialist Stephen Butler and one each from Shane O'Donoghue and Gary Shaw.
Lining out again for Glenanne will be man of the match Graham Shaw, who not only played a crucial part in his club's Irish Senior Cup victory, but helped Loreto to victory in a women's showdown that went to extra time and penalties.
Captaining the side is Joe Brennan, a dogged defender, while making his last appearance in this competition will be Stephen Butler, who announced his retirement a few weeks ago.
Matches between the two Dublin sides are always close. In the Leinster League, two victories over Glenanne proved critical in giving Pembroke the league title. Scorelines of 3-2 last December and 4-1 in March do not reflect the closeness of the matches, both played at a ferocious pace.
Corinthian, the third Leinster team to make it through to the league finals, have had an exceptional season, losing only once in their Leinster League campaign and finishing just a single point behind Pembroke. They face Ulster side Lisnagarvey in their semi-final.
In the women's semi-finals, Railway Union must bounce back after losing on strokes to Loreto in the ESB Women's Senior Cup final. They face Hermes in a repeat of the match that gave them the Leinster League title for a second year a few weeks ago.
Isobel Joyce captains a Railway side that includes players such as Irish international Emma Smyth and goal poachers Jean McDonnell and Nikki Evans.
Hermes has a long history of success at every level with a team that is a potent mix of youth and experience. Niamh Atcheler and Chloe Watkins -- both part of St Andrew's treble-winning senior team -- are first team regulars.
In the other semi-final Pegasus face Cork Harlequins.
Also taking place are the women's wildcards play-offs, with Old Alexandra, Catholic Institute, Ballymoney and Connacht fighting it out for two places in the league next season.