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Lisnagarvey's teenage stars aiming to clinch Irish Hockey League title in fine style

 

Goal ace: Lisnagarvey’s Troy Chambers has made a mark at both club and school level
Goal ace: Lisnagarvey’s Troy Chambers has made a mark at both club and school level
Errol Lutton

By Graham Hamilton

The EY Irish Hockey League's trophy chiefs will almost certainly be on standby at Lisnagarvey this evening in case the Blues are crowned champions after their penultimate game of the season against Annadale (8pm start).

Errol Lutton and his team need just one win from their last two games to secure the title and, with home advantage, they are expected to do the business this evening and ensure that both the men's and women's top-flight trophies will be in Ulster hands, with Pegasus having already secured theirs.

Even if they were to unexpectedly slip up this evening, the Blues have a second chance to clinch the trophy in their final game of the regulation programme - and that also happens to be against Annadale, on Saturday, April 27.

But it's more likely that the silverware will be presented after this evening's game and, if that's the case, then coach Lutton has to take credit for their success.

Remember, at the start of the season he was faced with quartet Paul Gleghorne, Sean Murray, Neal Glassey and Michael Robson all moving abroad to help further their international careers, and others - including captain Daniel Buser and prolific scorer Timmy Cockram - no longer being available.

But he blended in a host of young players, including Troy Chambers, Jonny Lynch, Andrew Edgar, Oliver Kidd, Cole Chambers, Ben Nelson, Harry Morris and Mark McNellis, and they've lost just twice in their 16 league games to date.

That leaves them clear at the top, ahead of second-placed Three Rock Rovers, third-placed Banbridge and fourth-placed Glenanne, who will join them in the EY Irish Champions Trophy finals weekend at Banbridge's Havelock Park at the start of May.

They are already guaranteed a place in Europe next season and they're also into the Irish Senior Cup final in mid-May against Three Rock Rovers at the Dublin side's home ground.

They also have the Anderson Cup semi-finals coming up next Tuesday at their Hillsborough base, as well as those end-of-season ICT play-offs.

Meanwhile, the national and domestic seasons take a break due to Easter, although the EuroHockey League goes ahead in Eindhoven from this evening through to Easter Monday.

Three Rock Rovers are representing Ireland and their KO16 game against Belgian giants KHC Dragons today (2pm) will determine rankings for next season.

The Dubliners won't have it easy, particularly as the Dragons have two Irish internationals in their ranks - Shane O'Donoghue and Kirk Shimmins - who know their style so well.

One Ulsterman is involved in the series - Banbridge's Ben Cosgrove, who features for Scottish side Grove Menzieshill. They will take on Amsterdam on Friday afternoon (4.15pm).

There is no men's senior action over Easter weekend, but the semi-finals of the Anderson Cup are on Tuesday, both of which will be staged at Lisnagarvey's Hillsborough ground.

Cookstown in particular will be glad of that action, as they prepare for their final Irish Hockey League game on Saturday, April 27 against Banbridge - a game from which they need a positive result as they try to climb out of the automatic relegation spot.

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