Quins and C of I bid to keep derby cup final dream alive

IN THE HOPE of an all-Cork clash in the final of hockey’s Irish Junior Cup, arch rivals Cork Harlequins and Cork Church of Ireland will be rooting for each other this weekend as they contest separate semi-finals of the competition.

Neither side will have it easy, however, with C of I travelling to Dublin to play Pembroke Wanderers while Harlequins have a home tie against Banbridge — a side with whom they feel they have a score to settle.

The tie at Dublin’s Serpentine Avenue will see C of I field a side bolstered by such experienced players as the Dunne brothers, Trevor and Ali, as well as Richie Dorman, but they will be up against very tough opposition in Pembroke, who are currently tied with Three Rock at the top of the Leinster Senior League Division 3.

In fact, they beat Three Rock 3-0 in the quarter-final and as such will represent a very difficult away tie for C of I, particularly as their team is filled with Leinster U-21 representatives, as well as a couple of Australians and South Africans.

For Harlequins, the task will be no less difficult as they face a Banbridge side against whom they lost the Junior Cup final two seasons ago on a 2-1 scoreline.

This is very much a family affair for the Farmers Cross outfit with three sets of brothers — Phillip and Dan Hobbs, Edward and David Gash and Mark and Paul Dawson — in the side along with players with lots of senior experience, such as Lee d’Alton, Mark Lombard and Captain and goalie Chris Daunt.

According to team manager Pat Dawson, while there are two survivors from the ‘Quins junior side which beat Lisnagarvey 5-4 in a thrilling final back in 1999 — Mark Dawson and Eddie Gash — most of this side would have played in the club’s most recent Junior Cup final against Banbridge two seasons ago.

“That was a funny match in that we won 17 short corners but lost the game 2-1 because of the amount of chances we missed,” Dawson said. “That is something we have worked on a lot since then and we expect to do a lot better this time around.”

Seventeen-year-old Dan Hobbs has been a regular scorer in the cup with eight goals so far in this campaign and his drag flicks have been a feature of the cup run.

According to Dawson, his combination with Kiwi Dave Heappey has been particularly fruitful this year and scoring should not be a worry. Defence, however, is a big concern to the team management, especially as Banbridge have been notable this year for their scoring record.

“They are third in their division of the Ulster League right now, but they have scored some 47 goals, while only conceding 22 and they have a raft of fast, young players, many of whom have been represented on underage Ulster teams,” the ‘Quins manager said.

“From that point of view, our defence is going to have to be right on top of its game if we are to cope with them, but we are expecting this to be a very tight match,” he added.

The Banbridge team will feature players such as the man-of-the-match in the final two years ago Paddy Grimes in goal, Roger Martin, who has been the captain of the side for the past six years and is a former first team defender and David McAnulty, the former Irish international forward with 93 caps, as well as their younger stars.

Meanwhile Robin Madeley has resigned his position as National Development Officer of the Irish Hockey Association “for personal reasons”.

Madeley says he’s no longer able to commit to the role and will be leaving the Association at the end of the month.

“Robin has done a brilliant job during his year-long spell with the IHA,” commented IHA chief Paul Varian.

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