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Neal Glassey out to build momentum for Lisnagarvey as Monkstown visit

By Graham Hamilton

Irish international Neal Glassey's first competitive goal for his new club Lisnagarvey proved to be decisive in giving the Blues their first win in the new EY Irish Hockey League - and now the dynamic midfielder wants to make an impact when current all-Ireland champions Monkstown make the trip to Hillsborough on Saturday.

Neal decided to switch the maroon of Mossley for the blue of Garvey during the summer and already he feels the step up in class is helping him as he attempts to establish himself in the Irish training squad.

His goal last Saturday was just the boost he wanted, and indeed it turned out to be the winner in a thrilling 3-2 success at Dublin giants Pembroke Wanderers.

Now it's Monkstown in his sights as Garvey navigate their way through what is the trickiest opening month of the campaign.

"It has been a fairly smooth transition since joining Garvey," said Neal, who is affectionately known as 'Builder'. "I knew a handful of the boys from Irish training camps and there are also several ex-Mossley players in their ranks, including James Lorimer and Jonny Quigley.

"It was a change that had to be made to keep me competitive, but I fully respect what Mossley did for me in my time there.

"In fact, I was at The Glade on Friday to cheer them on and was delighted to see them qualify for the Kirk Cup semi-finals following their 1-1 draw with Kilkeel."

Neal, though, fully appreciates that the IHL is going to be a tough tournament, with so many quality teams taking part.

They don't come much more difficult than Monkstown, who have been all-Ireland champions for the past two seasons, and so this game is clearly crucial.

"Monkstown may have struggled in the Dublin derby against Railway Union in their opener, but they scored twice late on to win 2-1," pointed out Neal.

"It will be tough against them but we've made an encouraging start and want to build on that."

There's no doubt that game at Hillsborough goes down as match of the day, but there are a few other intriguing encounters.

Mark Tumilty's Banbridge will be hoping to break through that Railway defence a lot easier than Monkstown did when they make the trip to Dublin, and Cookstown will need something from their home game against Pembroke, otherwise they will be chasing the pack from the start.

Annadale's game against Three Rock Rovers is another interesting one, especially with the arrival of their Australian player, Robbie McGuire.

McGuire helped Gosford City to a double-trophy season, scoring twice on Sunday in a 2-1 Grand Final win, his last game before heading for Belfast.

There's also a full Kirk Cup and Linden Cup pool programme, with just a couple of semi-final places still on offer.

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