Men’s Irish Hockey League, final
YMCA 1 (Jamie Tobin) Lisnagarvey 3 (Timmy Cockram 2, Stevie Arbuthnot)
For a club with Lisnagarvey’s impeccable record, seven years is a lengthy wait for a national title but, after two consecutive final losses, the Ulster kingpins eased to their first IHL crown.
With it comes a first trip to the EuroHockey League as they got the better of YMCA – themselves hoping to end a 33-year wait for a top tier trophy – with plenty to spare.
He was later honoured with the Jimmy O’Connor Cup as tournament MVP with a superlative solo show.
Just two minutes had elapsed when the Irish international drove a low bullet at the bottom right corner, seemingly denied only by Ian McHugh’s foot.
No penalty stroke ensued but it was a warning shot and, after a number of other set pieces, Cockram found the route past the outstanding Graham Woods – only playing due to Iain Walker’s debilitating shoulder injury – in the 47th minute.
It was richly deserved for a dominant performance, the Dublin opposition offering only fleeting moments in attack with Johnny Bell and Brian Waring – one of just a couple of links to the 2005 vintage – untroubled at the back for the most part.
An elaborate switch move saw Steven Arbuthnot double the difference before Jamie Tobin got the Y back into the tie near the close of the third quarter.
It was a peach of a finish from the former UCD man, ghosting down the left and sliding past John Tormey, setting the move in motion before Marcus Richardson and Rob Whelan teed up the goal. But the hope was extinguished quickly.
Greg Thompson was left unattended on the right baseline and the finishers queued up at the back post with McNeice getting a goal-bound touch that Cockram poached from a matter of centimetres.
Sin-binnings for Stephen Walker and Dash Hewett further dimmed YM hopes and even the replacement of Woods with an extra outfielder for the closing five minutes could offer little more momentum.
YM still have a slight hope of reaching a rare European place should Lisnagarvey emulate their 2005 double-winning next weekend.
There, they play Railway Union in the semi-finals of the Irish Senior Cup and look the stand-out candidates in that competition after a dominant showing this weekend. If they do, YM take the second European club championship place on offer.
YMCA: G Woods, G Walker, S Walker, D Hewett, J Tobin, J Bruton, A Walker, M Richardson, W Powderly, D Robinson, I McHugh
Subs: S Parker, R Pedreschi, R Whelan, P Powderly, B Chadwick
Lisnagarvey: J Tormey, B Waring, J Bell, R Arneill, P MacDonnell, M Raphael, A Forrest, T Cockram, S Arbuthnot, D Buser, G Thompson
Subs: G Bittle, A Fallis, A McCann, S McNeice, M Harte