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Instonians' bid to delay match thwarted

 

Fitness race: Stephen Kelso
Fitness race: Stephen Kelso

By Graham Hamilton

Instonians have expressed their disappointment at Ulster Hockey after the governing body turned down their request to delay their Anderson Cup semi-final against Lisnagarvey, scheduled for Hillsborough tomorrow evening.

The Ulster Premier League champions are involved in this weekend's Irish Hockey League second tier play-offs and sought a cup postponement to ensure they would be injury-free going into a vital semi-final game against UCD at Corinthian's St Columba's College ground in the Dublin foothills.

However, their request was turned down by the competitions committee and they are now considering their options.

"We want to be best prepared for the weekend, and sought a postponement, but without luck," said Inst chairman Tom Reid.

"Through no fault of our own, we have been waiting since March 17 for this game - that's five weeks - but then it was pencilled in just ahead of arguably our most important game of the season.

"We can't afford injuries ahead of Saturday's play-off semi-final, and possible final on Sunday, as we chase a position in the IHL's top flight."

Inst already have prolific scorer Stephen Kelso on the injured list and are anxious not to have any more setbacks.

Inst are due to face Garvey at the Hillsborough venue tomorrow evening, with Cookstown and Banbridge squaring up in the other semi-final.

Meanwhile, Cookstown know this will be a defining week for the club.

Apart from that Anderson Cup semi-final against Bann, they face the same opposition four days later in a crucial EY Irish Hockey League game at their Tyrone venue that will determine where they will be playing their hockey next season.

The Red Army currently are in the IHL's bottom position on goal difference from Cork C of I with Dublin YMCA one point better off as they go into Saturday's final round of games in the regulation league programme.

If Cookstown finish bottom, they will drop to the IHL's second tier and also into Ulster's Premier League.

If they can manage to finish second bottom, they go into a play-off against the runners-up from this weekend's IHL 2's play-offs being staged at Corinthian's ground in Dublin.

But if they can pull off a positive result against Bann and finish third bottom, then it's survival.

Tomorrow's Anderson Cup tie against Bann will give Michael Haycock's lads a glimpse to what they can expect against the same opposition in the IHL game.

But their priority is to ensure IHL safety, so Saturday's game at Steelweld Park remains the big one.

Elsewhere, Three Rock Rovers returned home from their EuroHockey League campaign in Eindhoven, having missed out on the chance of becoming the first Irish club to reach the last eight of the competition.

Their 4-2 defeat against Belgian side KHC Dragons was followed by a 4-1 defeat against English club Surbiton and we now await the next club rankings list to see which Euro tier next year's representatives will go into.

Meanwhile, the Sussex Regiment Cup semi-finalists are now known.

Pool A winners Newry Olympic will take on Pool B runners-up Mossley while Pool B winners Civil Service will face Pool A runners-up Queen's.

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