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Garvey have the firepower to spring a surprise

By Graham Hamilton

It's not often a Lisnagarvey team head to Dublin for the Irish Champions Trophy finals weekend as the underdogs.

But that's what's facing Errol Lutton's lads as they bid to land the trophy against all the odds and secure a valuable ticket to Europe next season.

Garvey face hosts Three Rock Rovers at their Grange Road base in the second semi-final on Saturday (5pm) knowing that the Dubliners toppled them when they last met in December.

And if they do manage to get through to Sunday's final, it will be either IHL champions Glenanne or fourth placed Pembroke Wanderers awaiting them - and both already have a good record against the Blues this term.

Glenanne chalked up league wins home and away, while Pembroke drew at Garvey in the league and also beat them 3-0 in the Irish Senior Cup final.

But write off a Garvey team at your peril.

When they click, they are a joy to watch, and this was underlined as they knocked in seven without reply against Railway Union last week to end a four-game run without a win.

Confidence is back, and the goals are flowing from the Nelson brothers Daniel and Matthew as well as Andy Williamson, and with international stars in Jonathan Bell and Paul Gleghorne in defence and Neal Glassey and Michael Robson in midfield, there's every reason to suggest they can keep the Ulster flag flying.

Meanwhile, Cookstown are banking on experience to see them through Sunday's EY Irish Hockey League promotion/relegation play-off against Bangor at a Belfast venue to be confirmed.

Defender Paul Thompson admits results have been poor lately, with heavy defeats against Banbridge (5-0), Pembroke (7-2) and Three Rock (4-1) leaving Cookstown second bottom, forcing them into the play-off.

"We've been in this position before and will hopefully have learned a little something about the experience of such a play-off," said Thompson.

The Red Army, though, have a major doubt over the inspirational Keith Black who picked up an ankle injury last week.

Bangor coach Scott Parker hopes to lift his players after the disappointment of losing the shoot-out in last week's Provincial Play-Off final in Cork, and with striker Ryan Burgess in top form, there's a great opportunity to reach the IHL for the first time.

Belfast Telegraph

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