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Williamson is winning his battle to recover for Cup final, insists Lutton

 

Fitness race: Andy Williamson is hoping to make the decider
Fitness race: Andy Williamson is hoping to make the decider

By Graham Hamilton

Lisnagarvey's leading goalscorer Andy Williamson is hoping to shake off a foot injury in time to line out in Saturday's Irish Senior Cup final against Three Rock in Dublin (3.45pm).

Williamson has rattled in 23 goals this season - a dozen at national level and another 11 in the Ulster knockout competitions, the Anderson Cup and Kirk Cup.

But the foot injury picked up in the first half of last Saturday's EY Irish Champions Trophy semi-final against Glenanne ruled him out of Sunday's final and put in doubt his chances of landing an Irish Senior Cup medal for the first time this weekend.

Garvey coach Errol Lutton said: "He got a bad bang on the foot in Saturday's ICL semi-final and missed Sunday's final, but there's a reasonable chance that he'll make this Saturday's Irish Senior Cup decider.

"There's no break, just bruising, and the week's rest and some physio work will hopefully have him ready for the big game.

"He has had an outstanding season, not only leading the attack and scoring goals from open play but also from penalty corners. He was disappointed to miss one final, so is keen to make it for this one.

"We know Three Rock are a top team and are on their home pitch, but we go to Dublin as Irish Hockey League champions and that's something our younger players will never forget."

Williamson was in the Garvey squad that featured in the 2016 final but lost to Monkstown and is determined to get his hands on a winner's medal this time.

Garvey last won what is regarded as world hockey's oldest knockout competition back in 2006 when the current coach was captain and had the pleasure of lifting the silverware aloft.

Now Lutton would love to bring the trophy back to their Hillsborough base with what is the youngest Garvey squad ever to compete at this level.

Sunday's 2-0 loss to Three Rock in that Irish Champions Trophy final at Havelock Park was the only time this season that Garvey failed to score, and their fans will be hoping they can get back on the goal trail and turn the tables on a Three Rock team that out-muscled them on occasions last weekend.

The Dubliners, though, will have the advantage of playing on their home pitch next door to the sprawling Marlay Grange just off the M50 - and the last time the teams met there, the hosts ran up a comfortable 4-1 success in the league.

Lutton may well have five schoolboys in his squad, following the loss of those international players abroad over the summer, but he has integrated them into his system and the outcome has been an amazing 133 goals this season already.

Apart from Williamson, there have been big contributions from Matthew Nelson, Troy Chambers and James Lorimer.

But to improve on that tally they'll have to curtail Three Rock's lively strike force led by former Irish international Mitch Darling, concede as few penalty corners as possible so as not to give Luke Madeley the opportunity to show his prowess at set-pieces, and somehow penetrate a solid defence which is backed by 'keeper Jamie Carr.

Meanwhile, the domestic programme is near completion and Saturday sees the Sussex Regiment Cup and Intermediate Cup finals being staged at Stormont.

Newry and Queen's battle for the Sussex Regiment Cup but it's not known who'll be in the Intermediate decider until tonight's two semi-finals.

MEN'S FIXTURES TONIGHT: Ulster Intermediate Cup semi-finals: Portrush v CI (8pm); Ballynahinch v Ballymena (8pm)

SATURDAY: Irish Senior Cup final (Grange Road, Dublin): Lisnagarvey v Three Rock Rovers (3.45pm)

Sussex Regiment Cup final (Stormont): Newry Olympic v Queen's (10.30am)

Ulster Intermediate Cup final (Stormont): Ballynahinch or Ballymena v Portrush or CI (3.30pm)

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