Garvey and Bell have reasons to be cheerful
There was good news on two fronts for Lisnagarvey at the weekend, despite the frustration of having their scheduled EY Irish Hockey League game with Annadale called off due to a snow-bound pitch at Comber Road.
Johnny Bell would have missed the game as he continues his recovery from a fractured eye-socket, sustained in a recent match with Cookstown, but he will be available again for Saturday's crucial clash with Three Rock Rovers at the same venue.
In addition, leaders Glenanne, who had beaten Garvey 3-2 a week earlier, dropped two points when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Dublin rivals Monkstown in the one EYIHL game to be played on Saturday.
The Hillsborough side, who had squandered points against Cookstown the week before in a 2-2 draw, are now six off the pace, but have the benefit of two games in hand, adding even more significance to the game with Rovers, who are in second-place.
A win over the Dublin side on Saturday would see Garvey go level on points with their opponents and Bell is in no doubt about the importance of the contest.
The Ireland defender said: "It's a huge game for us and a win would put us right back into title contention while from a selfish point of view, I wasn't too sorry Saturday's game was called off.
"I probably wouldn't have been able to play anyway, so it means that I won't have missed any more hockey, having been forced to sit things out due to the injury.
"The swelling has gone down fortunately but I wouldn't have risked playing because if I had happened to take another knock around the same area, it would have set me back even more.
"It's obviously a hugely important time for club and country with Ireland playing in the World Cup.
"I actually had considering playing with a protective mask on my face but it was going to cost a small fortune as they have to be individually-crafted so that was a non-starter."
In the two previous seasons of the IHL under its new 18-match format, Garvey and Banbridge won the regulation campaign with some comfort.
However, Bell, who captained the team to the title in the competition's first season, believes it's going to be a much closer affair this time around.
He added: We've already seen several teams unable to string a sequence of wins together and Glenanne and us are cases in point so I think it's going to come down to which team can be most consistent from here on in."
Result: EY Irish Hockey League: Monkstown 2 (G Sarratt, A Ward) Glenanne 2 (S O'Donoghue 2): all other games postponed.