Lisnagarvey Hockey Club Head Coach Errol Lutton says his side are ‘contenders’ for the Irish Hockey League, but emphasised that ‘no trophies are handed out yet.’
Lutton saw his side produce their best display of the season last Saturday as they thrashed Three Rock Rovers 4-0 to go four points clear at the top of the table.
With one match remaining before the break, Lutton remains cautious of getting carried away, saying the second half of the season will provide ‘different challenges.’
Speaking about his side’s performance last weekend. Lutton commented: “The guys performed well, probably the best we’ve performed this season.
“It was good to get a result against one of the best sides in the league, the win was fully deserved.
“As people get used to this league the quality will increase,” the coach added.
“That was game eight and teams are finding their feet, including us. We played as well going forward and defending as I have seen.”
With his side in top spot, Lutton is a happy coach, but will not take his eye off what needs to be done.
“It’s good to be there but we are only at the halfway stage,” he said.
“Being top is reward for all the hard work the guys have put in, but the new year will present different challenges.
“The Irish stuff will come into play and we’ll have players away training with Ireland, that will be a different challenge to deal with that.
“There are no trophies handed out yet, but where we are is seeing the hard work rewarded.
“The guys have shown a great reaction since losing to Monkstown.”
Fellow coaches are now tipping Garvey to win the inaugural EY Irish Hockey League, with Banbridge coach Mark Tumilty saying the league is “Garvey’s to lose”.
However, Lutton is being cautiously optimistic about his side’s chances.
“We saw ourselves as contenders at the start along with quite a few teams,” he stated.
“There are no easy games, matches are tight. We are contenders with many other teams.
“As I say, there are different challenges ahead. We have a six week break until the end of January and that brings its own issues.”
Garvey have brought added experience and manpower to their squad with the addition of Ireland international Michael Watt, who featured last Saturday.
“Michael certainly brings experience,” Lutton said. “He came to prepare well for Ireland and for Rio, and we are delighted to have him on board.”
Whilst Lisnagarvey have managed their injury concerns well this season, they are currently missing Paul Gleghorne and Johnny Quigley.
Lutton explained: “Johnny Quigley is more long term, he could be out for five or six weeks.
“Paul is training this week, so we will look at him before Saturday.”
Garvey have another tough fixture tomorrow (Saturday), when they face Railway Union in Dublin.
“Saturday’s match will be tough,” the coach said. “Railway Union beat Banbridge 3-1 and that shows the quality they have. They have two or three players from Australia, so there’s quality there.
“There are no easy games, I see them as contenders for the league as well.”