Stirling return boosts Garvey hopes
Philip Stirling, the man who hit the headlines big time when he struck a hat-trick to win the Irish Senior Cup for Lisnagarvey in 2003, is back home again.
And the lanky striker, who has been teaching all over Europe for the past few years, has rejoined the Hillsborough team in time for their assault on the inaugural All-Ireland League which starts in October.
The return of Stirling is a timely boost for coach Mark Tumilty as he begins his second season in charge, eager to improve on last year’s showing.
Tumilty has been rebuilding the first team squad and his relatively young side did well to qualify for the All-Ireland club championship finals back in May.
But they lacked strength in depth, and perhaps a little firepower upfront ... and now Stirling’s return will help considerably on both fronts.
Philip’s hat-trick against Cork Harlequins five years ago won Garvey the trophy that year, but despite having by far the best record in the Irish Senior Cup - including a seven-in-a-row during the late 1980s and early ’90s - they haven’t won it since.
Garvey begin their Ulster Premier League assault in mid-September when champions Cookstown, derby rivals Lisnagarvey and previous champions Annadale and Instonians will be the biggest threat.
They are in the arguably easier pool in the new Irish Hockey League, with Leinster champions Three Rock Rovers, Munster champions Cork C of I and Ulster rivals Banbridge their stiffest tests.
Leinster minnows Monkstown and Fingal complete their pool.
They begin that campaign in mid-October with a derby trip to Banbridge.