Mills Cup final
Monkstown 4 (A Ewington 2, S Cole, A Ward) Three Rock Rovers 3 (P Blakeney 2, P McConnell)
Comeback kid Andy Ewington was the unlikely hero as the New Zealander capped a stunning Monkstown comeback to land a second Leinster senior Mills Cup title in three years, seeing off Three Rock Rovers 4-3 at Grange Road.
They came back from a 3-1 deficit with Ewington firing home twice including the clincher four minutes from time with a ripping drag-flick.
He had form in this regard, scoring twice in the 2011 final win over Glenanne but has scarcely played for the first team in the past season due to external commitments.
But Graham Shaw called on his services in the wake of a spate of late injuries as he needed a set-piece expert to take the place of Richard Sykes who was absent along with senior internationals Davy Carson and Kyle Good. The latter, a former Rovers man, fell foul of appendicitis on the eve of the game.
In a cagey opening, they started off brightly with Andrew Ward nicking the ball away from Ali Haughton inside the circle and firing home the first goal.
Rovers, though, have an experienced look this term and, with Michael Maguire to the fore, played their way into the lead, winning a number of penalty corners.
Peter Blakeney scored from the first before Peter McConnell finished off the third on the half-time hooter from a finely worked move after an initially off course push out.
And the Rathfarnham side looked well set when Johnny McCormack’s crisp cross was controlled by Mitch Darling and rolled into Blakeney’s path to record his second of the day.
Monkstown responded quickly, Ewington bringing it back to 3-2 with 26 minutes left as Rovers corner routine broke down horribly at the far end.
Stephen Cole scored a beauty to level matters, twisting both ways before unleashing a reverse-stick rocket, making for a cracking finish as the game opened up markedly.
Dave Fitzgerald’s double save from Blakeney was a big moment while Rovers were initially awarded a stroke when Jody Hosking’s shot hit Ewington’s body in front of goal. An umpire’s consultation downgraded the decision to a penalty corner that was fluffed.
Monkstown’s set-piece had no such kinks and they got their chance at the death when Gareth Watkins brilliantly took down a Stephen West clearance and won the vital corner.
Ewington bulldozed it through the corner defence with little time for a Rovers riposte. They will get their chance for revenge in five day’s time though in the Irish Senior Cup semi-finals.
Monkstown: D Fitzgerald, L Cole, N Dee, G Groves, G Shaw, D Cole, A Ward, S Cole, G Watkins, F Ryan, A Ewington
Subs: J Beirne, R Watkins, R O’Moore, G O’Halloran
Three Rock Rovers: W Armstrong, J Brennan, G Bourke, A Haughton, P Blakeney, M Maguire, J McCormack, M Darling, P McConnell, G Ringwood, C Huet
Subs: B Parsons, A Bothwell, J Hosking, C Huet, S West
Umpires: G Caulwell, S O’Connor