Bragging rights at stake as Lynch brothers face-off

LOSING to your little brother in the back garden is bad enough, but doing so in an Irish Hockey League semi-final “just can’t happen” according to Jason Lynch.

Lisnagarvey’s Irish international hot-shot comes up against younger sibling Karl of Pembroke Wanderers at Hillsborough tomorrow — a repeat of last year’s final — and is refusing to contemplate defeat.

Both grew up playing for Cork Church of Ireland on Leeside, but their studies have taken them elsewhere. They’ve been in opposition twice before, Jason taking the honours, but Karl — just back from a EuroHockey League (EHL) campaign with Pembroke — refuses to be cowed. Two years ago when Jason decided to play for Ulster, his U21 side finished 3-0 winners against Munster but here members the day more for his tete-a-tete with his younger brother.

“He ended up getting me a green card and mum started shouting from the sideline. I made a tackle, he lifted his stick and started screaming for a free. The umpire gave me green and mum was telling Karl to stop it!

“I did feel like I was 12 again. It didn’t really help either as (Leinster goalkeeper) Stephen West had a load of pictures of it, Karl threw them up on Facebook straight away. It was good craic. Last year, I played him at C of I. We beat them 6-3, I didn’t get a chance to run at him but this semi-final is definitely about bragging rights.

“He seems to have done well with Pembroke this year. He’s always been saying “are you going to the EHL? Oh wait, you’re not in it this year!” This should be good, if they do beat us, I don’t think I’d ever hear the end of it. It just can’t happen.”

Like ‘Garvey, Glenanne are fancied in the other semi-final, their opponents Banbridge’s poor showing in their Irish Senior Cup semi-final defeat to Monkstown highlighting some defensive fragility. But if they get their act together, Bann are potentially lethal; just ask Pembroke, who were humbled 6-2 in the pool stages. Glens’ Mick McGuinness isn’t taking any chances against a side who have an axe to grind after a controversial decision helped the Tallaght side to a semi-final win in 2009.

“I saw them in the Irish Senior Cup and they didn’t do too well but I’d say they’ll come good in the IHL. There’s a bit of history there but we feel good about ourselves,” he said.

“The games are so, so, so tight. It could easily come down to a decision. We didn’t get the rub of the green last year (in a semi-final against Pembroke) and it could easily come down to something like that next weekend.”

The women’s semis see a repeat of the 2009 Irish Senior Cup decider between UCD and Pegasus. The latter dumped UCD out in the last four a couple of weeks ago and this will be another fascinating duel between the experience of Pegs’ Arlene Boyles, Suzanne Beaney and Claire McMahon and the young brilliance of UCD’s Irish international trio, Chloe Watkins, Gillian Pinder and Brenda Flannery.

Hermes and Railway Union reprise their Leinster tussles in the other last four tie; Hermes have an ISC final defeat to Pegs to avenge but Railway will be keen to dump out a side who beat them to league glory this term.

Meanwhile, Shane O’Donoghue has become the first player to be simultaneously nominated for the senior and U18 male player of the year following the release of the shortlists for the annual ESB Electric Ireland Irish Hockey Awards 2011.

He is in good company in both selections, former internationals Mark Black and Mark Raphael along with Monkstown dynamo Fran Lee.

Catholic Institute’s Elaine Bromell is the sole Munster representative up for the women’s award, alongside Kate Dillon, Aisling Campion and Emma Stewart.

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