Pembroke got their IHL Pool B campaign on track with a comfortable victory over Three Rock Rovers at Grange Road but will rue a last gasp penalty corner concession which cost them a winning bonus point.
They got off to a dream start, Alan Sothern whipping home his side’s second penalty corner in the fourth minute. Mick O’Connor made it two when he bounced the ball into the circle and crashed home a spectacular volley from the circle’s edge.
With just ten minutes gone, the signs were ominous as Craig Wilson dinged the post and Matt Brown crashed the bar before the South African got on the mark just before the break from another corner.
Pembroke got back into bonus territory when Tim Hill scored against his former club as the Rovers’ defence stopped, waiting for a corner to be given again. The livewire forward played on and snapped in a brilliant effort.
And it looked like that was the way it would stay until 90 seconds from time when Paddy O’Connor won a contested corner which Blakeney fired low past Davey Williamson, taking a slight sheen off a strong win.
YMCA, meanwhile, bounced back from a 4-1 defeat to Annadale in the Irish Senior Cup to reverse the result with an emphatic showing at Milltown.
Having netted just once in three ties, they finally broke the shackles as Jonny Bruton and Marcus Richardson struck in the first half to get their dander up. Fraser Mills did get one back for the Carryduff side but David Robinson notched his fourth and fifth goals of the season from corners to end a run of three straight losses in flying fashion, crucially taking a bonus point which raises the side to the upper reaches of the table.
Greg Thompson’s goal three seconds before the final hooter denied Cork C of I a second successive draw at the start of their men’s Irish Hockey League campaign as last season’s finalists Lisnagarvey grabbed a last ditch 2-1 win.
It was the second time the Garryduff side – reeling from the loss to an ankle injury of talisman John Jermyn – have given up a leading position as they were unable to build further on Gary Wilkinson’s goal.
The Ashton schoolboy snapped up a sharp rebound for a first half lead but Timmy Cockram’s reverse-stick effort set up the Hillsborough side and they dominated for long periods of the second half with Billy Lynch pulling off a string of saves.
And they pounced right at the death when Thompson, recently back on the pitch following a five-minute sin-binning, snagged the winner from a penalty corner switch.
Following their 2-2 draw in the first series of games, having led 2-0 against Pembroke, it leaves C of I in fourth place and off the pace set by by Garvey, Pembroke and YMCA.
In Pool B, Monkstown top the group ahead of Cookstown after the sides played out a 2-2 draw with Robbie McFarlane getting the equaliser for the Dublin side with 14 minutes to go.
Gareth Watkins had given the Dubliners the lead inside three minutes with a back post tap-in following a nice chest high take. But Mark Crooks played in Timmy Smyth to level at half-time and Greg Allen was on the mark to move 2-1 up, diving onto a through ball. McFarlane, though, swept home at the back to earn a couple of points in the fourth quarter.
Glenanne let a 2-0 lead slip against Instonians, losing 3-2 as William Robinson’s corner goal won the day. The Tallaght men looked on course for a strong win as Brendan Parsons’ goal and a penalty stroke from Gary Shaw – his ninth strike in all competitions thus far – put them on course at the interval.
They had further chances to make the game safe but Nigel Skillen saved a series of third quarter corners and, with the period close to completion, Paul Gleghorne broke out of defence to find John Watson to net a lifeline.
With Inst down to ten for part of the fourth period, the Glens had chances once more to make the game safe but, back to 11, Inst gained parity via a brilliant Watson goal five minutes from time, racing down the left wing and shooting home.
And Robinson completed the most unlikely of comebacks with a powerful corner flick with time running out to record a first win of this year’s campaign.
Cork Harlequins prop up Pool A following a chastening trip to Banbridge. The national champions were too hot to handle as Scott Caruth, Drew Carlisle, Ross McCandless and Stephen Dowds all registered to get their campaign back on track.
On the women’s side, Catholic Institute are back in the mix in Pool A as Eimear Cregan and Jane Bourke were on the mark to beat Armagh 2-1, the winner coming just four minutes from time.
Played in pouring rain, the tie was delayed briefly due to the deluge but it was the Orchard women who handled the conditions better to start with as Clare Hanna pounced on Katherine Steenson’s rebound in the 22nd minute.
Into the second half, Insta bounced back when Cregan grabbed a loose ball and spun a defender before firing home a reverse-stick effort to level the game. And that was how it stayed until very late in the game before Armagh were pinged for a free on halfway and the Limerick side reacted quickly to counter with Jane Bourke popping up to fire shot across Rhiannon McNally into the corner.
Stephanie Quinn and Vanessa Surgeoner’s double-strike in the first ten minutes put the reigning champs in pole position but, with Shirley McCay arriving for the second quarter following her graduation in the morning, Alex grew as the tie wore on.
Hannah McDermott netted her first goal for the first team having previously played just a couple of minutes for the side in one appearance last term. It got Alex back in contention but Kate McConnell’s cross was turned in by Quinn with half an hour remaining to take the result.
Loreto head up Pool B with a second successive bonus point win, thumping Lurgan 6-0 with Irish international Nicci Daly grabbing a hat-trick and former Pembroke corner hitter Sarah Clarke adding a double, bringing her tally for her new club to four this season.
Daly began the run in the sixth minute from a Niamh Small pull-back before Clarke made it two from a corner. Daly put her side in bonus land in the 24th minute, shooting home from the top of the circle.
The half-dozen was completed by the end of the third quarter, setting up their next trip to the Mardyke to face UCC before they face what look to be pivotal ties in the New Year against Railway Union and Ballymoney.
Their perfect record of two successive bonus point wins puts them clear at the top of the section with Ballymoney a point back after they snatched a 3-2 win in Farmer’s Cross.
Men’s Irish Hockey League
Pool A: Banbridge 4 (S Caruth, D Carlisle, R McCandless, S Dowds) Cork Harlequins 0; Instonians 3 (J Watson 2, W Robinson) Glenanne 2 (B Parsons, G Shaw); Cookstown 2 (G Allen, T Smyth) Monkstown 2 (G Watkins, R McFarlane)
Standings: 1. Monkstown 6pts (+4) 2. Cookstown 5pts (+2) 3. Banbridge 4pts (+2) 4. Glenanne 3pts (-2) 5. Instonians 3pts (-3) 6. Cork Harlequins 2pts (-4)
Pool B: Cork C of I 1 (G Wilkinson) Lisnagarvey 2 (T Cockram, G Thompson); Three Rock Rovers 2 (P Blakeney 2) Pembroke 4 (A Sothern, M O’Connor, M Brown, T Hill); YMCA 4 (D Robinson 2, J Bruton, M Richardson) Annadale 1 (F Mills)
Standings: 1. Lisnagarvey 6pts (+2) 2= YMCA 5pts (+2) 2= Pembroke 5pts (+2) 4. Cork C of I 3pts (-1) 5. Annadale 3pts (-2) 6. Three Rock Rovers 1pt (-2)
Women’s Irish Hockey League
Pool A: Armagh 1 (C Hannah) Catholic Institute 2 (E Cregan, J Bourke); Old Alex 1 (H McDermott) Pegasus 3 (S Quinn 2, V Surgeoner)
Standings (played): 1. Pegasus (2) 6pts (+3) 2= Hermes (1) 4pts (+3) 2= UCD (1) 4pts (+3) 4. Catholic Institute (2) 4pts (0) 5. Armagh (2) 1pt (-4) 6. Old Alex (2) 0pts (-5)
Pool B: Harlequins 2 (Y O’Byrne, A Taylor) Ballymoney 3 (N Parke 2, E Lynch); Loreto 6 (N Daly 3, S Clarke 2, N Small) Lurgan 0
Standings (played): 1. Loreto (2) 8pts (+9) 2. Ballymoney (2) 7pts (+4) 3. Railway Union (1) 4pts (+3) 4. Cork Harlequins (2) 1pt (-4) 5. UCC (1) 0pts (-3) 6. Lurgan (2) 0pts (-9)