Men’s Leinster Division One
Monkstown 1 (Stephen Cole) Glenanne 3 (Brendan Parsons, Jonathan Kane, Stephen Brownlow)
Graham Shaw admitted his side “probably thought the title was out of reach” at Christmas but they bounced back to be the most consistent side in 2012 to claim Glenanne’s sixth title in 12 years.
The Glens were the better side for the majority of the first half and Monkstown had particular difficulty stopping them moving the ball out from the back with ease. But the Town always carry a threat from corners and had the first shot on ten minutes only for Richie Shaw to block it down.
Brendan Parsons gave Glenanne the lead midway through the first half; a short corner switch to Paul Fitzpatrick which appeared to travel marginally above the backboard before the midfielder deflected it home unmarked.
Jonathan Kane doubled the tally about five minutes later with a sensational deflection as he dived on to Graham Shaw’s crash ball to angle the ball off the far post and in to the net.
Monkstown responded with a good spell near the end of the half from which they earned two consecutive corners. The first was switched left to David Cole but Gareth Carragher made a good save with his glove. The second was a straight flick from Richard Sykes down the stick side but Carragher again made a nice save with his foot.
Fitzpatrick went off with a foot injury just before that meaning Graham Shaw had to drop back in to sweeper. This and a higher press from Monkstown saw them gain the upper hand in the second half.
Two more corners came and went. The first came just after half-time and saw Carragher stand tall to another Sykes’ drag-flick, saving firmly with his glove. The second one came about ten minutes from time and was moved to the right but Eddie O’Malley got a block in to send it wide.
In between those two corners, Stephen Cole reduced the deficit as he slid on to Andrew Ward’s reverse cross to deflect in to the far corner.
Although the hosts were completely in charge at this point, they only had a few other really clear cut opportunities, mainly due to some incredible tackling from Glens, in particular the likes of Filip Jaros and David Shaw.
David Keogh showed good reactions to bat away a reverse stick effort from Robbie McFarlane that had looped over Carragher while several baseline attacks broke down at the final pass.
Kane and Rowland Rixon-Fuller had half chances at the other end before the game was sealed with five minutes remaining. A Glenanne counter-attack began at right-back with Stephen Brownlow who exchanged passes with Richie Shaw and Rixon-Fuller before the latter found Brownlow with an inside pass.
It was a tough end to the season for the sky-blues who were odds on favourites for the title at the mid-season break but their increased international contingent and injuries at key times to Gareth Watkins, Kyle Good, David and Stephen Cole opened the door for their rivals.
And the Glens were the side to take advantage, reeling in a seven-point gap to take the title by a single point.
The manner of the win, holding their nerve on the final day of the campaign in a winner-takes-all battle at Rathdown against Monkstown, was testament to the battling qualities of Shaw and Paul Fitzpatrick’s side.
Indeed, it was outcome right up there in Shaw’s estimation: “With the exception of the first one (in 2000), this probably is the best ever. With the amount of players going away and the injuries we had, this is a top achievement.”
The co-coach paid tribute to Fitzpatrick, too, who returned for another season at the age of 40, describing him as “incredible” while the return of Carragher from UCD has been another significant factor to step in place of Steven Doran.
TRR 0 UCD 1 (Shane O’Donoghue)
Shane O’Donoghue’s drag-flick 12 minutes from time meant UCD had little recourse to nervy phone calls to Park Avenue as they got the result which secured ninth and a division one/two playoff place. There was little in the way of first action but the second improved slightly with Garry Ringwood cracking the near post while Conor Quinn did well to smother the ball after Ali Haughton’s left wing break. The students came on strong in the closing quarter, winning a trio of corners and O’Donoghue drove the last of these through Stephen West’s defences for the winner.
Railway Union 11 (Jeremy Duncan 4, Rob Abbott 2, Mark English, Peter English, Eoin MacArthur, Fiachra Maher) Clontarf 2 (Tom Noonan, James Rogan)
Railway nailed down IHL hockey for next season in emphatic fashion as Clontarf bowed out of division one with a whimper as Jeremy Duncan ran riot at Park Avenue. The Unionites were 4-0 up in scarcely 12 minutes and six up at the break. Nine were on the board before a couple of late responses came from James Rogan and Tom Noonan. Duncan nabbed four and was at the centre of everything good Railway put together, scoring two classy reverses and a couple of dinked finishes following mazy solo runs. Peter English’s goal was significant in that it helped ensure he claims the Hennessy trophy as the men’s division one top scorer. Fiachra Maher got the pick of the bunch, roofing a deflection from Mark English’s crash ball, coming straight from the second half tip off.
YMCA 3 (David Robinson 2, Stephen Parker) Pembroke 2 (Karl Lynch, Tim Hill)
YM fulfilled their half of the bargain but, ultimately, their victory over Pembroke meant they could not rise from fifth and must face the IHL wildcard playoffs for a second time. Their desire was the more apparent in the first half as they built a 3-0 lead as the hosts hunger and intensity saw them twice punish Pembroke hesitancy in the circle. David Robinson was on the mark twice while Stephen Parker weighed in with his fourth of the campaign. There was an almost immediate response after the break with Craig Wilson to the fore while Karl Lynch nabbed a rare goal with a high corner rebound while Tim Hill also was on the mark. David Williamson saved a stroke which would have sealed the tie for the Y while Pembroke ran up a few late corners but could not convert.
Corinthian 1 (Ben Murphy) Fingal 2 (David Bane, Simon McKeever)
Fingal closed out the season with a fourth win from the last six to give their campaign a much more healthy look as David Bane’s drag-flick won a low-intensity tussle with a quarter to go. Both sides were missing a number of players with Andrew Sutton, Davy Carson, Glen Shekleton, Andrew Shekleton, Derek O’Gorman and Tom Manning all absent. Simon McKeever celebrated his call-up to the Leinster U-21s with the only goal of the first half, teed up Adrian Sweeney. Ben Murphy got the equaliser, reversing a sweep shot from the top of the circle which Nigel Grothier palmed into the roof of the net. But Bane’s drag-flick turned the result ALSAA side’s way.