Men’s Irish Hockey League
Pool A: Monkstown 2 (Nick Dee, Stephen Cole) Annadale 2 (William Edgar, Andy Williamson); Pembroke 3 (Alan Sothern 3) Cookstown 2 (Simon Todd, Jon Ames); Cork Harlequins 2 (Mark Black, John Aherne) Instonians 2 (John Watson, Jonny Madill)
Monkstown were joined by Cookstown in the semi-finals as Pembroke and Annadale’s outside chances of upsetting the Co Tyrone side were edged out.
Despite an Alan Sothern hat trick, the five-goal victory margin required by Pembroke was never really on the cards as Cookstown did what they needed to do to ensure progression to the men’s IHL final four.
They had led at 2-1 at half-time before being pegged back in the third quarter and while Sothern grabbed a winner late on, it left the final four out of reach.
At Glenanne Park, Annadale came from a 2-0 down to snatch a 2-2 draw but the win they required – along with a favourable result in Cookstown – was just out of reach.
In a scrappy, low tempo first half, Monkstown twice unlocked the Dale half court press to have a handsome lead in the bank on a stick pitch.
The first was an individual peach from Nick Dee who controlled a bouncing high ball way out on the left. With calls to pass left and right, he took on the shot himself and perfectly picked out the bottom right corner.
Stephen Cole added the second when the defence hesitated, believing they deserved a free, but the midfielder played on rifling into the roof of the net.
They scarcely looked troubled at that stage but Annadale’s greater need for a result in the second period shone through in a half pock-marked by technical errors. William Edgar was at the heart of Annadale’s good work, popping in from close range from Andy Williamson’s cross to get his side back in the game.
They swapped roles three minutes from the end when Edgar’s reverse somehow squirmed its way underneath Dave Fitzgerald with a couple of touches right in front of him.
It gave only a few moments to grab a win that might have put them through but Cookstown’s losing bonus point meant it was immaterial.
At Farmer’s Cross, Instonians produced a late fightback to recover a two-goal deficit to draw with Cork Harlequins. Mark Black’s deflection and a 60th minute effort from John Aherne put Quins on course for a first win of the campaign.
But John Watson and Jonny Madill’s efforts meant that the Cork men head to Europe without a win to their name after a tough IHL campaign.
Standings: 1. Monkstown 18pts (+12) 2. Cookstown 14pts (+8) 3. Pembroke 13pts (+1) 4. Annadale 12pts (+1) 5. Instonians 6pts (-10) 6. Cork Harlequins 2pts (-12)
Pool B: Lisngarvey 2 (Stuart McNeice, Steven Arbuthnot) YMCA 3 (Jonny Bruton, Stephen Parker, Jamie Tobin); Banbridge 2 (Dane Ward 2) Glenanne 1; Cork C of I 2 (David Hobbs, Andrew Daunt) Railway 4 (Rob Abbott, Peter English, David McCarthy, Rob Devlin)
YMCA’s brave effort to snatch a second successive Irish Hockey League semi-final berth came up just short against Lisnagarvey as they sought to run up a three-goal win in Steelweld Park.
They fought back from 2-0 down as Stuart McNeice netted after a series of quick passes while Steven Arbuthnot hammered home from the edge of the circle. It left YM needing to score five times but they got a glimmer of hope when Jonny Bruton got a touch to a crash ball.
And YM had Garvey on the rack in the third quarter but only managed to notch a Stephen Parker corner variation on the scoreboard. With nine minutes to go, Jamie Tobin scored with a snapshot on the turn to set up a concerted final effort, one in which the Y pulled Iain Walker in favour of an extra outfielder.
But their efforts proved in vain and Garvey could have killed off their hopes even sooner had James Lorimer’s drag flick not been touched over the bar by an unpadded goalkeeper.
Nonetheless, the losing bonus point was enough for the Comber Road side to advance to the final four and a date with Monkstown in their bid to retain the Irish Hockey League.
Banbridge completed the group stage with a perfect record as Dane Ward was on the mark twice in a 2-1 win over hosts Glenanne.
He got his first when he got on the end of a three on two move after a turnover. Richie Shaw levelled but Ward scored the winner in the fourth quarter while Philip Brown was in the sin bin.
Railway, meanwhile, came from 2-1 down to beat Cork C of I 4-2 to set themselves up nicely for Tuesday night’s Neville Cup final against Pembroke. David Hobbs and Andrew Daunt put C of I 1-0 and 2-1 up, sandwiching Rob Abbott’s goal.
But the second half belonged to Railway. Peter English dispatched a drag-flick, Mark English hit the post before final quarter goals came from David McCarthy and Rob Devlin to swing the tie the Sandymount club’s way.
Standings: 1. Banbridge 20pts (+13) 2. Lisnagarvey 14pts (+4) 3. YMCA 13pts (+1) 4. Railway Union 8pts (-2) 5. Cork C of I 5pts (-8) 6. Glenanne 5pts (-8)