Men’s Irish Hockey League, semi-finals
YMCA 2 (Marcus Richardson, own goal) Monkstown 2 (Stephen Cole, Brian Groves), YMCA win 3-1 on penalties
A man of the match performance from Graham Woods saw YMCA reach their first national final since 2001, keeping alive their hopes of ending a 33 year wait for a top-tier trophy.
The Y were 2-0 up inside ten minutes, a Geoff Walker crash ball wreaking havoc and while Marcus Richardson and Phil Powderly were subsequently credited with the goal, an own goal appeared the consensus, rebounding off two defensive sticks.
No doubt about the second, Richardson smashed home mid-circle and the men in black were in dreamland.
Monkstown, though, have produced their fair share of comebacks of late and they were on course when Stephen Cole reversed home and Brian Groves – only back in the side at the latter stages of the season – got them level, volleying behind his back from Ward’s cross.
The second half saw little let-up to a relentless pace with Richardson and Jonny Bruton superb while the tackles from the centre-backs like Will Powderly, David Cole and Ian McHugh were huge.
Woods dived full-length to get his stick to a Richard Sykes’ drag before he departed early with a leg strain. From another corner, David Cole and Ward pummeled the keeper’s pads.
But YM had plenty of chances themselves. Parker was through one-on-one and while Dave Fitzgerald saved well, in getting back to his feet, he almost kicked into his own goal, scampering to knock the ball away.
Richardson should have had a stroke, too, when Bruton’s shot rebounded behind the keeper and the Australian was shoved over as he sought to knock into an open goal.
Extra-time drew only a Richardson tracer just wide of the uprights, leading to the penalty one-on-one scenario. David Robinson was fouled by Fitzgerald in round two for a penalty goal to give YM an early advantage – a decision Monkstown contested hotly the game.
Lee Cole levelled with an excellent reverse finish but it was their only goal in the shoot-out as Richardson and Parker took the direct route and slipped under the advancing goalkeeper for the final berth.
YMCA: G Woods, G Walker, S Walker, D Hewett, J Tobin, R Pedreschi, J Bruton, M Richardson, W Powderly, D Robinson, I McHugh
Subs: S Parker, A Walker, J Purcell, P Powderly, B Chadwick
Monkstown: D Fitzgerald, E O’Connor, N Dee, G Groves, A Ward, R O’Moore, D Cole, R Sykes, G O’Halloran, L Cole
Subs: B Groves, F Ryan, J Beirne, D Farrell, D Poff, Z Dutton, R Watkins
Cookstown 3 (Ian Sloan 2, Greg Allen) Lisnagarvey 4 (Timmy Cockram 3, Mark Raphael)
Timmy Cockram’s sublime hat-trick set the base but it was his excellent interchange with Mark Raphael which eventually won the day as Lisnagarvey made it through to their third straight IHL final.
That it needed to that late goal was eye-catching in itself as Cookstown were tepid, far from their best, with Ian Sloan hobbling through the second half.
But a couple of crash balls caused havoc and offered the Co Tyrone a route back into the tie despite holding precious little possession.
Cockram had the host club 2-0 up, first with a low bullet of a corner and, next, with a dainty finish after Steven Arbuthnot’s initial drag rebounded to Raphael. His diagonal pass to Cockram saw the Irish international dodge left and flip the ball on his reverse over Ian Hughes.
It set Garvey fair as half-time closed in but one long ball was controlled by Allen on the edge of the circle and he won his side’s first corner which Ian Sloan ripped home on the hooter.
The two-goal was restored on 52 minutes when Cockram robbed David Best wide on the left, rounded a flat tackle and reversed through Hughes’ defences.
Allen pulled one back when a crash ball bounced off John Tormey’s pads invitingly and when the striker redirected another booming pass into a foot, Cookstown had parity with four minutes to go – Sloan nailing a low drag.
But Garvey produced a moment of magic as Mark Raphael sold Andy Barbour a dummy before threading a pass to Cockram on the edge of the circle. He spun right before slipping back to Raphael who chipped in with just over two minutes to go.
Cookstown: I Hughes, M Rollins, E Butler, I Sloan, A Barbour, S Sloan, M Crooks, D Best, G Allen, T Smyth, K Black
Subs: R Millar, G Cuddy, R Meller, P Thompson, A McWhirter
Lisnagarvey: J Tormey, B Waring, J Bell, R Arneill, P MacDonnell, M Raphael, T Cockram, S Arbuthnot, D Buser, S McNeice, G Thompson
Subs: G Bittle, A Fallis, A Forrest, A McCann, R Cummins