Banbridge and Monkstown through to men’s IHL semi-finals with week to spare


Men’s Irish Hockey League
Pool A: Cookstown 1 (A Smyth) Monkstown 2 (D Carson, L Cole); Annadale 3 (C Henry, M Allister, W Edgar) Cork Harlequins 1 (M Black); Pembroke 4 (K Lynch 2, A Sothern 2) Instonians 0

Annadale’s 3-1 win over Cork Harlequins means there is still a little bit of life in Pool A going into the final round of games as Lee Cole’s late winner for Monkstown against Cookstown opened a chink of light.

The latter duo were locked at 1-1 until Cole celebrated his international call up this week when he popped up with a late winner from a corner to grab a fourth successive win in this competition.

Earlier, David Carson had put the sky-blues in front only for Andrew Smyth to level from play. The result puts Monkstown through while the losing bonus point lifts Cookstown to 13 points but not quite of range of Annadale.

They are on ten and if they can nick a result against Monkstown next week, they could apply plenty of pressure. Mark Black and Chris Henry both netted in the five minutes leading up to half-time for 1-1 between Dale and Cork Harlequins but second half strikes from Matthew Allister and William Edgar swung the tie the Carryduff outfit’s way.

Doubles from Alan Sothern and Karl Lynch, meanwhile, garnered Pembroke a second win of the competition as they eliminated Instonians with a 4-0 win. They scored one each in the first quarter, Sothern’s effort from a corner in the fifth minute bringing his seasonal club tally up to 50 goals. Lynch made it 2-0 in the 11th minute

With Mark Ingram enjoying a good day between the posts, it remained that way until the 58th minute before a great piece of skill on the baseline saw Lynch flick past the goalkeeper. Sothern closed out the scoring.

Their outlook for the semi-finals looks a forlorn one but, should they win by five goals in Cookstown, Pembroke can break into the top two should Monkstown deny Annadale full points.

Standings: 1. Monkstown 16pts (+12) 2. Cookstown 13pts (+9) 3. Annadale 10pts (+1) 4. Pembroke 9pts (0) 5. Instonians 4pts (-10) 6. Cork Harlequins 0pts (-12)

Pool B: Glenanne 1 (C Kennedy) Lisnagarvey 3 (D Buser, A Forrest, P Stirling); YMCA 4 (K Makowski 2, S Parker 2) Cork C of I 2 (G Wilkinson, P Sweetnam); Banbridge 2 (S Dowds, D Ward) Railway Union 0
With Banbridge securing a semi-final berth with a ground out 2-0 win over Railway Union, Lisnagarvey moved ever closer to the second final four space when they got the better of Glenanne.

In the week he was named in the 30-man Irish panel for the first time, Daniel Buser confidently fired home early on to cap a dominant first quarter performance from Garvey, a lead they held until half-time.

Andre Forrest nabbed the next from an end-to-end move before Clive Kennedy got the Glens back in the mix. Phil Stirling’s corner rebound, though, confirmed a third win from four for Garvey in the 65th minute.

YM’s cutting edge mean they are the only side who can overhaul Lisnagarvey into second as they saw off Cork C of I 4-2.

Polish international Krystian Makowski got them off to a flyer from a swift counter-attack and Stephen Parker, against his former club, picked up a second in the 25th minute.

Youth international Gary Wilkinson, though, got CI back in the mix at 2-1 down at the interval as David Hobbs brought his influence to bear on matters. In the 43rd minute, Makowski restored the two-goal wedge and two minutes later it was 4-1 thanks to Parker’s second.

Philip Sweetnam got another back but Stephen Sweetnam’s late penalty stroke was comfortably saved by Iain Walker to deny the Cork men a bonus point and their semi-final hopes are done for another year. YM need a three-goal win over Garvey next week in a repeat of last year’s IHL final.

For Banbridge, while they missed a host of chances, they had enough in reserve to get the better of Railway Union 2-0 with Stephen Dowds scoring his 40th goal of the season and Dane Ward sealing the win.

Standings: 1. Banbridge 16pts (+12) 2. Lisnagarvey 13pts (+5) 3. YMCA 9pts (0) 4. Cork C of I 5pts (-6) 5. Railway Union 4pts (-4) 6. Glenanne 4pts (-7)

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