By Stephen Findlater
Dave Egner has divided loyalties this weekend as the Cork Harlequins side he plays for face the UCC team he coaches in the Irish Hockey Trophy.
Egner scored twice last weekend in a 2-1 win against Munster champions Bandon, one of their best recent results. Indeed, the hope is the result is an indication of a rejuvenation process that has followed a fallow spell for the famous Cork club. New talents like Munster U18 players Ross Bailey, Jack O’Meara, Andrew Dale and Michael Holland are adding to the sense of optimism for Quins.
Irish U21 international Sam Grace is the Students’ pivotal player with his exceptional distribution from the back and vicious drag-flicks their key methods of attack but they will need to shift Quins’ strong spine to make full use of their greater speed.
Elsewhere, Waterford host Dublin North while Ashton are up against Newry.
In the EY Hockey League, Cork C of I host newly-promoted YMCA at Garryduff with both sides set to register a win from two rounds.
C of I hope John Jermyn has recovered from a knock sustained against Banbridge while Jonny Bruton is up against a former club.
Three Rock Rovers, meanwhile, represent Ireland in Barcelona at the Euro Hockey League where they will face Racing Club de France this afternoon and Spain’s Junior FC tomorrow.
On the women’s side, Harlequins host Old Alex in the national league, looking to bounce back from defeat to Loreto. Lorna Bateman and Becky Maye shared the goalkeeping duties for Quins last weekend, getting a half each as they adjust to life without Emma Buckley. Alex suffered a torrid first 25 minutes in the top-tier last week when they conceded three times against Railway Union but showed enough quality after that to suggest they can cause problems as the season progresses.
Emma Russell, Lisa Jacob, Fiona Connery and Pam Smithwick all have international experience while Spanish import Paula Pena looked lively.
The rest of the action for Munster clubs is focused on the Irish Trophy on Sunday with Ashton hosting Mossley, Belvedere against Clontarf in Ballincollig, Waterford up against Weston and Cork C of I travelling up to Kilkenny.