Lisnagarvey Hockey Club get back to competitive action tomorrow (Saturday) with a crunch Irish Senior Cup quarter final tie in Dublin.
Garvey haven’t been in competitive action since December 19, when a last-gasp winner sealed a vital 3-2 victory over tomorrow’s opponents, Railway Union.
Whilst Garvey have kept busy, playing in the Cookstown Tournament in recent weeks, the real work begins again tomorrow when they return to action in the Irish Senior Cup.
Speaking ahead of the match, Garvey Head Coach Errol Lutton commented: “It was quite intense up to the 19th December and the players were looking forward to the break at Christmas. We did train a bit over Christmas and were back early in January because we knew we wouldn’t have any matches for six weeks, but it went quite quickly.
“We don’t underestimate the task ahead of us,” he said about tomorrow’s quarter final clash. “The last team we played was Railway Union at their ground and it took until the very last hit of the game to secure the win.
“They have played very well and have had very impressive results this year.
“We don’t underestimate how good a side they are.”
Lutton said the recent Cookstown tournament was ‘excellent’ for the team, as it allowed the squad to keep fit and gave the coach a chance to look at several younger players.
“Cookstown very kindly contacted us to take part. It was great to get competitive matches.
“Teams from Dublin were interested in playing us during the break, but we had schoolboys with exams, guys at university with exams, the international guys are away with Ireland, so it was a great to have the opportunity to have games against Ulster sides and fellow IHL teams.
“We got a look at a few of the younger representatives so it served a very good purpose.”
With five members of the Garvey side only returning from South Africa on Thursday, having been away with Ireland, Lutton is hopeful they will perform at a ‘higher level’ thanks to their international work.
“There are no injury worries,” Lutton commented. “Hopefully they come back fit and well.
“They arrive back on Thursday morning so they have to rest on Thursday and Friday before the game.
“Things work pretty well with the international guys. We know they have other commitments, and hopefully they will return playing at a higher level.”
The Garvey coach is expecting good support yet again when his side travel to Dublin tomorrow.
“We had a good crowd down the last time we played them. We’ve had good travelling support all season, even when we went to Cork. It’s always good to get that support.”
Lutton is expecting the second half of the season to be ‘intense’, with fixtures coming thick and fast now that the season has resumed.
“It will be quite intense and the guys need to focus. There is not that much between any of the sides,” he added.
With the thrilling finish in their last encounter, Lutton is expecting another tight encounter.
“It was very exciting,” he commented. “We went 2-0 up and Railway came back. It showed our strength of character to go to the end of the match, win a penalty corner and put it away, it’s a reflection of what a tight game it was and what we’ll face in the cup.”