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Garvey want to relive glory days

By Graham Hamilton

Published 27/01/2016

Key man: Timmy Cockram can down Railway once again
Key man: Timmy Cockram can down Railway once again

Lisnagarvey are planning to turn back the clock and renew their love affair with world hockey's oldest knockout trophy, the Irish Senior Cup.

During the Eighties and Nineties, the Blues ran up a record-breaking seven successive wins in the competition but it has been 10 long years since they last won it, and that's one of coach Errol Lutton's top priorities for this season - for more than one reason.

Lutton takes his team to Dublin to face Railway Union in Saturday's quarter-finals and he'll be reminding his players this competition offers something that the club craves - an automatic place in the end-of-season all-Ireland play-offs, from which they can qualify for Europe.

The Irish Champions Trophy play-offs will involve the top three finishers in the new Irish Hockey League as well as the Irish Senior Cup winners, and although there is a good chance Garvey will make it through the IHL route - they are currently sitting top - it's always good to have a back-up in case something goes wrong in the second half of the season, which starts on Saturday week.

Garvey are the only Ulster team left in the cup competition after holders Banbridge and the other representatives crashed out in earlier rounds.

And they know just how difficult it will be at Railway's Park Avenue ground - they needed a last-gasp Timmy Cockram penalty corner conversion to earn a 3-2 win in the IHL just before the Christmas break.

Lutton's lads have been using the Nigel Cheevers Memorial Tournament, which also involves Banbridge and organisers Cookstown, as a warm-up, although they were missing their four internationals who were on duty in South Africa.

The all-Dublin clash between rivals Pembroke and Monkstown is scheduled for Sunday.

Meanwhile, Instonians refuse to be superstitious as they prepare to go to bottom club North Down, where a win would make it 13 straight triumphs in the Ulster Premier League.

And with main rivals Kilkeel and Raphoe meeting head-on at the Mourne venue, something has to give, giving the chasing pack - which includes Belfast Harlequins, Portadown and Civil Service - an opportunity to stay in contention for the end-of-season provincial play-offs.

The top three in the Senior League - Bangor, Queen's and Campbellians - are all expected to win, so there is unlikely to be any change in the table.

Ireland star David Harte has been named the world's best goalkeeper.

The Munster man, currently playing for Dabang Mumbai in the six-week India League before returning to his Dutch club, was Goalkeeper of the Tournament at the World League 2 and World League 3 from which Ireland qualified for the Rio Olympics, and also the Europeans at which they won bronze for the first time.

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