Men’s Irish Senior Cup semi-finals
Railway Union 3 (K Chapple, P English, M English) Lisnagarvey 2 (A Forrest, T Cockram)
Railway Union are through to their first Irish Senior Cup final since 1975 as Mark English’s superbly taken winner six minutes from time ended Lisnagarvey’s double dreams.
Indeed, they were well deserving of the honour for a composed second half performance in which they created more against a Lisburn side perhaps feeling last weekend’s efforts in their legs.
Kenny Carroll, Ravin Nair and Richie Forrest were a concrete block around the circle while Stephen O’Keeffe saved numerous efforts, most notably picking the flight of Timmy Cockram’s final hooter drag.
And they always have the firepower up front to pick off their share of goals. Karl Chapple got the first on five minutes when Mark English arrowed a reverse-stick ball from the right.
It clunked the post where Rob Abbott picked up the rebound which John Tormey saved but only into the path of Chapple to score.
Garvey did enjoy plenty of first half possession but little penetration until Forrest (deliberate foot) and Carroll (ugly sliding tackle) were both binned. With two players extra, the Lisburn men leveled as Andy Forrest latched onto a rebound off O’Keeffe.
But Peter English re-established a half-time advantage when he muscled in a high drag-flick for 2-1 at the break.
Cockram was credited with the second equaliser from a heavilty deflected, 40th minute corner but Railway looked the more likely to swing the tie their way from then on.
It was swift counters that were their modus operandi as Abbott nearly thrust through while Mark English’s reverse stung the palm of Tormey.
Steven Arbuthnot almost capitalised when Peter English’s slip left him clean through but O’Keeffe met him at the top of the circle and saved with confidence.
But Railway were getting in position to launch a volley of crash balls before taking the lead for a third time in the 64th minute.
Many players had stopped for what they thought would be a penalty corner but Mark English quickly pulled back to the dotted line and was unchecked before hitting the circle and unleashing a cracking mid-height shot that Tormey barely saw.
Garvey pushed on – swapping Tormey out for an extra outfielder – and were rewarded when Stuart McNeice won a last minute corner. The first effort was blocked by a foot before Cockram aimed low but O’Keeffe capped his performance with an excellent stick-save.
They now will now hope to end a 73-year wait for the Irish Senior Cup, their last success coming in 1939 – their fourth title in a decade at the time.
Railway Union: S O’Keeffe, K Carroll, R Nair, P English, E MacArthur, F Keaveney, R Forrest, M English, R Abbott, K Chapple, J Duncan
Subs: D McCarthy, F Maher, A Garcia, R Boreland, R Devlin
Lisnagarvey: J Tormey, J Bell, B Waring, S Arbuthnot, D Buser, R Arneill, P MacDonnell, M Raphael, T Cockram, R Forrest, G Thompson
Subs: J Dowling, G Bittle, M Harte, S McNeice
Umpires: G Caulwell, R Johnston
Cork Harlequins 4 (J Hobbs 2, D Hobbs, D Egner) Instonians 3 (P Gleghorne 2, M Irwin)
Cork Harlequins netted twice in the closing 15 minutes to come from a goal down to come within one game of claiming their second Irish Senior Cup crown.
Hobbs brothers John and Dan won the corner battle with Paul Gleghorne – scoring three to the Irish international’s two – in a game which was short of picture perfect hockey but loaded with grit and grind.
Gleghorne had twice put Inst in front, his first coming in the seventh minute from the third of a string of corners, the first two of which saw William Robinson crack runner Jason Black on the foot.
In response, John Hobbs pushed low for 1-1 in the 32nd minute but the lively John Watson won a fourth corner for Inst just before the break. The Shaws Bridge side repeated the routine, a little switch left and a Gleghorne flick pushed them back in front.
After Harlequins went through their deck of flickers – Dan Hobbs and Dave Eakins having a go – before John Hobbs had another go and duly scored.
Parity again only lasted two minutes as a rare, well-crafted move saw Julian Lewis find Watson on the left edge of the D and he cracked across to Mark Irwin for a simple touch in.
But Quins had the experience to stay alert, probing the edge of the circle and eventually weedling a route through as David Lombard drove in and squared for Dave Egner to finish off.
Two more corners came and went before Dan Hobbs drove home a powerful winner six minutes from time and the European dream lives on for Quins.
Cork Harlequins: C Daunt, J Hobbs, R Hobbs, J Black, S Nicholson, M Black, P Lombard, D Lombard, D Eakins, D Egner, P McLaughlin
Subs: P O’Driscoll, B Hayes-Curtin, D Hobbs, C Ross
Instonians: N Skillen, M Irwin, C Kirk, J Watson, M Martin, P Gleghorne, J Corry, S Redpath, W Robinson, J Lewis, S McWilliams
Subs: P Young, P Brown
Umpires: G Conn, D Clarke