Irish international injury list rises to seven as Caruth and Bell sidelined
The injury jinx hampering the Irish squad has struck again, bringing the total of internationals sidelined to seven.
The latest to be ruled out is Annadale's player/coach Peter Caruth who had to withdraw from this week's trip to the Netherlands - a sickening blow after having just worked his way back into the training panel following a bad run of ankle injuries.
Caruth suffered a low-grade tear in his hamstring in Saturday's Irish Hockey League 2-0 win over Monkstown in Dublin.
He joins a growing injury list which includes Lisnagarvey's Jonathan Bell, who fractured his eye socket when the ball struck him last week, and Banbridge's Eugene Magee who broke a finger the week before.
Add in two more Banbridge players in Johnny McKee and Owen Magee who have been plagued by injuries this season, Monkstown duo Gareth Watkins and David Carson, and Lisnagarvey's Paul Gleghorne who only made his comeback last week, and it leaves national coach Craig Fulton wondering when this horrific run will come to an end.
Not surprisingly, Fulton had an experimental squad on duty for the uncapped training game against European champions Netherlands at Arnheim last night.
The two teams will play each other again this afternoon at the same venue.
Meanwhile, Civil Service blew their chance of reaching the Kirk Cup final for the first time when they lost their semi-final clash against Mossley 5-2 last night.
The Newtownabbey side will face the winners of tonight's second semi-final between Kilkeel and Instonians, who meet at Mossley's ground (7.45pm) in the Boxing Day showpiece.
Service took the lead through Thomas Priestley from a penalty corner after the ball was slipped back to the injector.
But Mossley responded with two goals inside a few minutes.
The equaliser came from Joel Cathcart after a neat build-up and then Stephen Hamill shot them into the lead when he latched onto a long ball and slipped it under the keeper.
Service got back on level terms just before the half-time break through Ross Anderson but then conceded three in the second half to miss their big chance.
Robinson got his second, this time from a penalty stroke retake, and then Cathcart got his second when he breezed through and struck home a beauty.
Robinson wrapped up the 5-2 win when his penalty corner was deflected high into the net.
Meanwhile, Saturday's programme sees the Irish Senior Cup 2nd round ties taking place, with at least three Ulster clubs likely to reach the quarter-finals.
Lisnagarvey should repeat last week's Irish Hockey League win over Railway Union, Annadale should squeeze past Leinster provincial club Dublin YMCA, and then there's the all-Ulster clash between Mossley and Belfast Harlequins.
That number could rise but it all depends on how Kilkeel do in their trip to Cork C of I; how Queen's fare against IHL leaders Glenanne; how South Antrim will manage against Pembroke; and whether Cookstown can reverse Three Rock's win over them last week when they meet again in Dublin.
The Ulster Premier League programme is decimated due to the cup, but four games will go ahead.
Bangor and North Down, both in the top half, are capable of chalking up wins despite being on the road, although Antrim and Raphoe respectively will push them hard.
And there's a crucial game towards the other end of the table when Newry Olympic and Cliftonville meet at the border venue.