The decision last summer of the EY Hockey League teams to withdraw from the provincial cups means the line-up has a fresh look with both reigning champions sitting it out.
On the men’s side, Cork C of I have been the dominant side in recent years but their absence means Bandon have the favourites’ tag when they face Limerick.
It is part of the West Cork side’s drive for a treble. With the league looking all but done and dusted, they also have an Irish Hockey Trophy semi-final to look forward to next week.
Clinton Sweetnam, Ali Smith — both capped by Ireland — and David Smith give the side plenty of top-line ability and experience. Sweetnam has weighed in with plenty of corner goals while the latter Smith has been similarly prolific.
Conor Robinson, meanwhile, is one of the country’s most promising young goalkeepers to back up a strong side. They face a Limerick side they beat a week ago in the league at Villiers (4-2).
The Treaty City side’s young guns will be on a high, though, with Villiers’ Gerard Hodkinson, Quinten Eacrett, Craig Morrow, and Jannis von Maydell among those coming into the tie off the back of their Munster Schools Cup success.
On the women’s side, with Cork Harlequins out of the competition, Rosbrien’s Catholic Institute take on Bandon.
Insta were winners back in 2011 and the likes of Christine O’Shea, Rosie Pratt, and Kym Daly will look to impart their know-how from that day to a new generation. Chief among the rising talent is Laura Foley who was named in the Irish U21 panel this week.
Like their men’s side, Bandon still have a couple of irons in the fire and this match-up will be replicated on March 24 in West Cork in the Irish Hockey Trophy semi-final.
Those finals form part of a busy St Patrick’s weekend with Cork C of I facing Three Rock Rovers in the much-delayed men’s Irish Senior Cup quarter-final at Garryduff.
For C of I, they have impressed since Christmas, especially in light of the unavailability of Philip Sweetnam and Andrew Daunt, while Alex Deane has gone on Erasmus to Spain.
Draws with league leaders Glenanne, 2016 national champions Lisngarvey, and Annadale have seen them put six points between them and any relegation danger, with John Jermyn and Julian Dale leading the charge.
Three Rock, though, are a bogey side for the Garryduff side with the Dubliners winning four of the five meetings since the introduction of the EYHL with one draw.
Rovers won their league encounter pre-Christmas 6-0 but they could have some weariness in their legs with a Leinster Senior Mills Cup final on Saturday against Corinthian.
With wins over Railway Union last weekend and Monkstown in midweek — both with a degree of comfort — their trip to Garryduff will be their fourth game in eight days.