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Steven Arbuthnot is turning back clock in Lisnagarvey's cup chase

By Graham Hamilton

Published 24/02/2016

Mature head: Steven Arbuthnot played in Garvey’s last Irish Cup win 11 years ago
Mature head: Steven Arbuthnot played in Garvey’s last Irish Cup win 11 years ago

Lisnagarvey may be heading towards the Irish Hockey League title but on Saturday they switch their attention to the Irish Senior Cup, which they haven't won for over a decade.

Garvey, of course, have had a love affair with this competition and their name is on the trophy 24 times, including a record-breaking seven in a row during the late Eighties and early Nineties.

But they haven't had their hands on the silverware since 2005 and that's something coach Errol Lutton and his squad want to put right. They face Three Rock Rovers in Saturday's semi-final at their Hillsborough venue.

There are only two survivors from that final 10 years ago when they beat Instonians in a thrilling all-Ulster decider - defender Steven Arbuthnot and striker Timmy Cockram, although coach Lutton was then at the heart of the Garvey defence while recent addition Michael Watt was in the Inst line-up.

Arbuthnot laughed: "Timmy and I are the only two in the squad who were in the team when Garvey last won the cup - now that's scary!

"And Michael was in the Inst team that day - well, I'm glad he's on our side now because he's a handful for defenders at the moment!"

There's little doubt these two teams know all about each other - they clashed in the Irish Hockey League only last week, a game that Garvey won 4-3.

Garvey, though, will not want to go through a similar last quarter to that of last week - they conceded three goals.

The Dubliners, however, reckon they gave the Blues too much respect before they threw everything to the wind and roared back into contention.

There's more at stake than just reaching the March 20 final in Dublin... it's also a route into the Irish Champions Trophy play-offs, which offer a place in Europe.

Garvey almost certainly will qualify for those play-offs through their table-topping IHL position but Three Rock are sitting fourth in the IHL, one place outside the automatic play-off places.

"Three Rock perhaps have an extra incentive in that the cup route could get them into the play-offs," admitted Arbuthnot.

"We can take nothing for granted. They are tough opponents, a force to be reckoned with and better organised than when they had a rocky start to the season."

Monkstown look a shoe-in in the other semi, although Glenanne are out to repeat their shock 3-2 success over their Dublin rivals in the IHL back in early December.

Meanwhile, there is just the one IHL game scheduled for Saturday - and what a crucial one it is.

Ulster rivals Annadale and Cookstown are in the thick of the relegation battle and meet for the second time in a week, this time at Lough Moss.

It was the Tyrone men who came out on top last week and the young Dale side can't afford to lose again, otherwise their chances of staying up would be slim.

In the Ulster Premier League bottom club North Down take on top team Instonians with the Comber lads hoping to build on last week's first league success of the season.

Bangor and Queen's are involved in the Irish Hockey Trophy semi-finals, hoping home advantage will help them set up an all-Ulster decider.

Belfast Telegraph

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