Lennox back for big derby showdown
Banbridge's Irish international goalkeeper Gareth Lennox will be donning the pads for Saturday's big Vi-Sport Premier League derby clash against Lisnagarvey at Havelock Park.
The giant custodian has been sitting out this season to date due to a lingering knee problem, but made his comeback in last Saturday's game against Bangor, coming on for 35 minutes.
He came through unscathed and coach Suzanne Evans will give him his first full outing of the season against Bann's arch rivals for what is a vital six-pointer.
"Gareth had no reaction to his short outing last week and also trained very well this week," said Bann's top scorer Ross McCandless.
"Ryan O'Neill and Aaron Appleton have been sharing the goalkeeping duties up to now, and have done very well, but Gareth's presence will be a bonus."
The last time these two teams met was at the end of September in the Kirk Cup pool decider, and it proved explosive with Garvey finally winning 2-1.
But Garvey coach Mark Tumilty has his problems this time, with five regulars missing. Cameron Black, Johnny Gray and Ulster U-18 star Jamie Brown are injured, Mark Robinson is unavailable and Johnny Bell is on a university field trip.
"It makes things a lot harder, but we'll be organised and still have many quality players around," says Tumilty.
Saturday also sees two more of the five main title contenders facing each other, with the other crunch game bringing together Annadale and Cookstown at UUJ.
The Dale will have key defender David Smyth returning after illness as they attempt to end Cookstown's unbeaten record to date.
This all gives Instonians a chance to steal a march on their rivals, as they are expected to maintain their recent good form with success at Bangor.
The other Premier game is also crucial - the two teams without a point to date, Mossley and Kilkeel, meet head-on. And whoever loses could have a difficult season ahead, trying to avoid the drop.
There are five cross-border ties in the Irish Senior Cup second round, with South Antrim, Portadown and Antrim heading to Dublin, and North Down and Ballynahinch hosting Leinster opposition.
Vi-Sport Premier League: Banbridge v Lisnagarvey, Havelock Park, 2.30pm (Umpires: C Porter, D Stewart); Annadale v Cookstown, Jordanstown, 2.30pm (Umpires, E McFerran, R Johnston); Mossley v Kilkeel, The Glade, 2.30pm (Umpires, C Beattie, D Glasgow); Bangor v Instonians, Ballykillaire, 2.30pm (Umpires, G Maguire, R Burton).
Irish Senior Cup 2nd round: Cliftonville v Down, CIYMS, 2.30pm (Umpires, D Clarke, C Browne); Civil Service v Queen's, Stormont, 2.30pm (Umpires, J Wray, D Corry); PSBPP v South Antrim, RCSI, Dublin, 1pm (Umpires, N Parnell, D Hassey); Ballynahinch v Skerries, Newcastle, 1pm (Umpires, A Campbell, K Glass); Raphoe v Belfast Harlequins, Royal & Prior, 2.30pm (Umpires, L Allen, T Lorimer); Clontarf v Antrim, Mount Temple, 1.45pm (Umpires, N Roche, B Glascsott); North Down v Railway Union, Comber LC, 1pm (Umpires, T Templeton, G Herron); Dublin Univ. v Portadown, Santry, 3pm (Umpires, G Walsh, S Ferguson); Navan v Suttonians (Umpires, B George, P Henchy); Avoca v Catholic Inst., Newpark, Dublin, 2pm (Umpires, C Deane, M Campbell).