By David Agnew
Once again the focus this weekend in Senior One is on Kirk Cup places as QUB, Armagh and Portadown all battle it out for the last remaining spot in next season’s elite cup competition.
Most neutrals will say that Portadown have little chance of adding to their points tally with a buoyant NICS due for a visit to Edenvilla on Saturday in the Ports last remaining fixture. But the hosts are aiming to put on a decent display with the possibility of a great end to what has been a difficult season.
Armagh are chasing down a 4 point gap and have two games in hand on the Ports so Robbie McMinn’s lads will be fully focussed ahead of Antrim’s visit to Ardmore. Lessons will have been learnt from last weekend’s 4-0 defeat by the same opponents but Antrim will want to finish their own season off in style and make it 5 wins on the trot.
QUB are still in the race and given their recent good run of results they may just fancy their chances of pipping both Portadown and Armagh to the post. They are not in action this weekend though so in true student fashion… I’m sure they will be up early, training hard or watching/scouting their next opponents and then early to bed ahead of their tough Easter holidays from University… I merely jest of course!
Harlequins and Down are due to meet at Deramore as Quins aim to claw their way up to fourth place. Jonny Carren (a returning former Collegians player) is now occupying the Harlequins hot-seat and his playing/coaching CV is extremely impressive. Carren is a Level 3 qualified coach who has been in Australia since 2001 where he gained experience of top-level hockey alongside the likes of Brent Livermore, Jamie Dwyer, Phil Burrows and many more international stars as both a player and later as a coach. Since his return to Belfast in January this year he has been coaching Belfast Harlequins and also secured the Strength & Conditioning Contract for Ulster representatives of the Irish Senior Men’s Team. Quins spokesman Robin Quigley believes that this appointment will be the catalyst for long-term success and of course Premier League status sooner rather than later.
Cliftonville are now out of the race for a Kirk Cup place and South Antrim have claimed third spot so when these two sides meet on Saturday it will purely be for pride.
In Senior Two the only action takes place between Portrush and Ballynahinch and the visitors will be hard to beat given the return to form shown by Grant Hayes in last week’s Sussex Regiment Cup victory.
Sussex Regiment Cup
Ballymena host Larne in what promises to be a close affair while Saintfield face an uphill struggle on their trip to PSNI and Campbellians will fancy their chances of smooth passage into the next round as the league leaders travel to face Parkview.
(and as usual my Ports team will be tipped for a win!)
Ports 2 vs NICS 1 (stoke the fire a bit)
Armagh 1 vs Antrim 2
Quins 6 vs Down 2
Ville 1 vs South 5
Portrush 1 vs Hinch 4
Sussex Regiment Cup
Ballymena 1 vs Larne 1
Saints 1 vs PSNI 3
Parkview 1 vs Campbellians 4
JUST A NOTE TO ASK IF SOMEONE FROM EACH CLUB COULD TEXT ME SCORE, SCORERS AND BRIEF MATCH DETAILS (INCLUDING CARDS!) EACH SATURDAY EVENING? THANKS. (ONE PERSON FROM EACH CLUB HAS ALREADY BEEN SENT MY MOBILE NUMBER)