Lisnagarvey's Daniel Buser thriving with extra responsibility
Lisnagarvey's Daniel Buser is loving the additional responsibilities handed to him by coach Errol Lutton this season. Buser was given the captain's armband after Jonathan Bell's successful stint and he is also the nominated penalty stroke taker in the continuing absence of Irish international striker Timmy Cockram, who is taking an extended break following the considerable time put in preparing for the Rio Olympics.
Those are two huge acts to follow, as Bell led the Blues to the Irish Hockey League and Irish Champions Trophy titles and also to the Irish Senior Cup final in a particularly successful campaign last season.
And Cockram, of course, has generally been Garvey's top marksman in recent years, capable of converting penalty strokes and penalty corners while also scoring from open play.
"It's a lot more responsibility, especially after Jonathan and Timmy were so good at what they did," admitted Buser.
"But I've been enjoying it so far. We've made a good start, which is better than last year as we lost our opening game, and we've a particularly young squad this time round.
"However, we have a handful of hard games coming up over the next few weeks.
"This Saturday we're away to Cork C of I and it's never easy there, then we have a derby clash against Banbridge and there's always a lot of rivalry in that game.
"They are followed a few weeks later by the Irish Senior Cup second-round tie against Monkstown who beat us on penalty strokes in last year's decider.
"It would have been better to have met them later in the competition, but we are looking forward to that game as we feel we owe them one for last year's loss.
"Hopefully we'll have Timmy Cockram back soon, as he gives us so many options in attack.
"He is taking an extended break after the commitments for Rio, and having some quality time with his young twins."
Garvey really need to win in Cork, though it won't be easy against a John Jermyn-inspired team currently lying third.
Banbridge have a difficult trip to Pembroke and will be hoping to improve on last season's 2-2 draw while Instonians can chalk up their first win of the season when they host a Glenanne side just one point above them.
In the Ulster Premier League, leaders Annadale host Mossley and should stay top while Cookstown can keep the pressure on by winning at Raphoe.
Third-placed Kilkeel are the odd one out this week in the 11-team set-up.
MEN'S SENIOR FIXTURES
SATURDAY: IHL: Pembroke v Banbridge (Dublin, 2pm); UCD v Railway (1pm); Cork C of I v Lisnagarvey (Garryduff, 2pm); Instonians v Glenanne (Shaw's Bridge, 2.45pm); Three Rock v Monkstown (3pm)
Premier League: Raphoe v Cookstown (Royal & Prior, 2.30pm); Campbellians v Portadown (Campbell, 1pm); Annadale v Mossley (Lough Moss, 2.30pm); Newry v Civil Service (Newry, 2.30pm); North Down v Belfast H'quins (Comber, 4pm)
Senior One: B'hinch v Antrim, Queen's v Bangor, South Antrim v Portrush