Men’s Irish Hockey League semi-finals
Banbridge 6 (Scott Caruth 2, Stephen Dowds, Bruce McCandless, Dane Ward, Hugh McShane) Cookstown 1 (Greg Allen)
Banbridge comprehensively dismantled Cookstown with a precise performance to ease into the men’s Irish Hockey League final, blowing away their Ulster rivals with three goals in each half.
It was delightful at times, picking myriad passes through a usually formidable reds back four while Stephen Dowds’ pace and direct running unlocked plenty of avenues of attack.
He flicked home the first in the fourth minute after his initial chance was saved off the line by Matthew Rollins. Peter Brown recovered it, rolled it back across to Dowds six yards out who finished easily.
His reverse was volleyed home expertly by Bruce McCandless to close the first quarter at 2-0. That became three with a peach, Philip Brown picking out Colin Dowds through the eye of a needle and he bounced it around Ian Hughes to Scott Caruth for the simplest of finishes.
Caruth’s second came on three quarter time, again an easy finish after Josh Moffett played him in. Greg Allen got one back from the penalty spot but, to ram the point home, Dane Ward scrambled in a fifth and Hugh McShane netted another cracker after an 80-metre counter-attack, clipping home the crispest of shots.
They advance to meet Monkstown in the final, the other stand-out team in this year’s competition to date, at 4pm on Sunday afternoon in Grange Road.
Banbridge: G Lennox, St Forbes, Sc Forbes, Pe Brown, B McCandless, S Dowds, S Magowan, Ph Brown, D Ward, D Carlisle, H McShane
Subs: J Moffett, J McKee, C Dowds, O Magee, S Caruth
Cookstown: I Hughes, M Rollins, G Irwin, R Millar, E Butler, S Todd, A Barbour, S Sloan, D Best, J Ames, G Allen
Subs: G Cuddy, P Thompson, A McWhirter, S Smyth, M Rooney, A Smyth, M Anderson
Monkstown 2 (Kyle Good, Davy Carson) Lisnagarvey 1 (Timmy Cockram)
The double dream remains very much alive and kicking for Monkstown as a pair of rapid-fire second quarter goals propelled them to Sunday’s final as they saw off a strangely subdued Lisnagarvey.
The reigning champions did have some golden chances to play a more critical role in this tie but, once the Town were in front, they took an eternity to muster a threat of a comeback.
Indeed, they had a trio of chances to go ahead. Greg Thompson’s baseline pull-back popped up invitingly for Phil Stirling on the back post but he missed the volley with the goal welcoming.
Mark Raphael’s sumptuous pull-back was battered into Dave Fitzgerald’s pads by Timmy Cockram early in the second quarter but the response was clinical and immediate.
Kyle Good’s rocket of a rising reverse off the back of Graham Shaw’s brilliant long pass from the back put the Town in front and, in the blink of an eye, it was two. Again it was stylishly worked down the right as Gavin Groves found Davy Carson alone with time to control and pick a spot past John Tormey’s right shoulder.
Cocrkam missed out from another dangerous Thompson cross but it was the sky-blues who were in control throughout the third quarter. Andrew Ward saw his shot palmed onto the bar by Tormey and another of his efforts thudded into the goalkeepers shins.
Lee Cole reversed over too before Garvey belatedly got a lifeline from their first corner in the closing ten minutes, Cockram rebounding from his own corner shot.
The Hillsborough side pushed on but only Raphael’s drilled shot went close to stealing a draw as Monkstown held on for the final berth.
Monkstown: D Fitzgerald, L Cole, N Dee, D Carson, G Watkins, D Cole, S Cole, G Shaw, R Sykes, A Ewington, K Good
Subs: C Ellis, J Beirne, G Groves, G O’Halloran, A Ward, R O’Moore, S Nolan
Lisnagarvey: J Tormey, S Arbuthnot, J Bell, R Arneill, P MacDonnell, D Buser, S McNeice, M Raphael, T Cockram, A Forrest, J Lorimer
Subs: B Waring, J Quigley, G Thompson, P Bland, P Stirling