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Ireland's call leads to big Bann clash being postponed

By Graham Hamilton

Ireland men are to take on World No.6 side Argentina in a mini-series in Dublin from October 14-18 - and that means the scheduled EY Irish Hockey League fixtures that weekend, which include the eagerly-anticipated clash between last season's two finalists Banbridge and Monkstown, have been moved back.

The Argentinians are preparing for the forthcoming World League finals.

The October 17 all-Ireland fixtures have now been put back to December 12, and the January 23 programme has also been moved - to March 13 - as it is another Irish training weekend.

The switch won't particularly worry Bann, who are hoping to move clear of favourites Monkstown by beating derby rivals Lisnagarvey at Havelock on Saturday evening (5pm).

The Dublin giants have no all-Ireland fixture this weekend as they are in Hamburg for the opening round of the EuroHockey League during which they take on English side East Grinstead and Spanish team Egara. Bann and the other unbeaten sides - Cork C of I and Three Rock Rovers - see it as a chance to move clear and put some pressure on them.

Bann, though, have the harder game of that trio, with Three Rock expected to win the Dublin derby against Railway Union, while Cork have switched their game against Annadale to Sunday as they hope to attract a bigger crowd.

With home advantage, Bann are going in as favourites against Garvey, and more so after the Blues crashed 5-2 to Monkstown last week.

But Ireland's most capped player, and Bann captain, Eugene Magee doesn't necessarily see it that way.

"All games against Garvey are hard - they are our local rivals and it's a massive match," he said.

"They now have internationals Paul Gleghorne and Neil Glassey in their set-up and by all accounts, their skipper Jonny Bell is ready for his comeback from injury, which is a big addition for them.

"And anyway, defeat against Monkstown is no disgrace. The Dublin side are ahead of us all in preparation as they have been building up for their European campaign, and with so many internationals in their ranks, they are looking sharp."

Yes, it could be another tight one - last season it ended all square at 3-3 - but Bann are on a roll at the moment and are keen to make it three from three and push their rivals down into midtable.

Cookstown should finally get a win under their belts when Glenanne come north but they will have to do it without Stuart Smyth, who is suspended.

Meanwhile, the Ulster Premier League and Senior One programmes get under way following the end of the Kirk Cup and Linden Cup pool games.

And there's a tasty opener in store at Shaw's Bridge where Instonians take on Mossley - two of the Kirk Cup semi-finalists.

ANTRIM'S Jonny McMeekin has been appointed Ulster Hockey's Coaching and Club Development Officer.

McMeekin has played and coached hockey in Ulster and Scotland over the past 20 years although he has been working in the Irish Football Association's marketing department for the last 11 years.

Ulster Hockey executive manager Angela Platt said: "He is arriving at a time when we embark on the development of our new Strategic Plan and will undoubtedly bring new skills and fresh ideas as we continue to grow our profile."

Belfast Telegraph


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