Fancied sides show form on men’s IHL opening day

Men’s Irish Hockey League – round one
Pool A

Pembroke and Lisnagarvey pulled off narrow victories over Cookstown and Instonians, respectively, to keep pace with Three Rock Rovers who had things all their own way against Cork Harlequins.

Peter Blakeney, pictured pushing past Brian Hayes-Curtin, scored twice for TRR against Cork Harlequins Pic: Adrian Boehm

Peter Blakeney, pictured pushing past Brian Hayes-Curtin, scored twice for TRR against Cork Harlequins Pic: Adrian Boehm

In Steelweld Park, Cookstown rode some early pressure, with Ian Hughes making a couple of great saves, before hitting the front against Pembroke via Marc Crooks’ reverse-stick effort in the second quarter. But Pembroke’s corner machine was in full flow as time word on and they built a 3-1 lead via Conor Harte – netting before half-time – before Alan Sothern knocked in one in each of the third and fourth quarters.

Jonathan Ames got one back with four minutes to go to earn the Co Tyrone side a losing bonus point but they look like they will have their work cut out to push for the semi-final spots.

Garvey, meanwhile, strode clear of Inst in the final quarter after the game had been locked at 2-2 for much of the game after William Robinson and Daniel Nelson had traded goals. Aaron Martin and Sean Murray struck in the closing 15 minutes to earn the spoils for Garvey, Murray’s reverse five minutes from the end denying Inst a losing bonus.

At Grange Road, Three Rock comprehensively outplayed Cork Harlequins to get their campaign up and running with a big win. Jonny Bruton was the scorer-in-chief and he started the run with a neat deflection to Freddie Morris’s cross in the sixth minute.

Four more goals followed in the second quarter, Bruton tipping in a great shot from Mitch Darling after a flowing move. Michael Maguire wormed in for number three while Peter Blakeney and Darling extended the lead to five at the interval.

Blakeney got Rovers up and running in the second half from a corner before Alan White, a pair from Dylan Shirley, a Garry Ringwood stroke and Bruton’s third completed the win.

Pool A: Cookstown 2 (M Crooks, J Ames) Pembroke 3 (A Sothern 2, C Harte); Instonians 2 (A Patterson, Robinson) Lisnagarvey 4 (A Williamson, A Martin, D Nelson, S Murray) Three Rock Rovers 11 (J Bruton 3, D Shirley 2, P Blakeney 2, M Darling, G Ringwood, A White, M Maguire) Cork Harlequins 0

Pool B
Monkstown and Banbridge were the happiest at the end of day one of the Irish Hockey League as they asserted their favourites status in Pool B with big wins over UCD and Cork C of I.

UCD did, however, start much the stronger in their debut in the IHL, winning three corners against Town in the first quarter and while those chances went a begging, Luke Chadwick latched onto a 19th minute rebound to take the lead in the second period.

David Fitzgerald make a couple of good saves to keep it to one but the game changed completely on 27 minutes when David Carson scored an individual effort with a great reverse tomahawk into the roof of the net. This served as a wake-up call and Town pressed hard at the end of Q2.

They were rewarded with a short corner after 33 minutes which Richard Sykes flicked hard and low and was stopped by a foot on the line. Gareth Watkins converted the stroke to leave Monkstown 2-1 up at half time.

A frustrated John Hobbs, Jason Black and Dan Hobbs  after their Cork Harlequins' side conceded a penalty stroke Pic: Adrian Boehm

A frustrated John Hobbs, Jason Black and Dan Hobbs after their Cork Harlequins’ side conceded a penalty stroke Pic: Adrian Boehm

In the third quarter, Monkstown took the initiative with Gareth Watkins fired inches wide from a Shaw pass but he did get his reward when a good run by Lee Cole down the left and cross took a slight Carson deflection for the striker to finish nicely on the far post.

David Nolan was playing well with Shaw in midfield and young Jazze Henry had some nice touches up front as Monkstown maintained control with time running out. Monkstown won a corner on the final whistle and, with a packed D, Sykes drag was deflected beautifully by Lee Cole into the roof.

Banbridge, meanwhile, were too strong for Cork C of I at Havelock Park, running up a 7-2 win to head the table on goal difference after round one.

Annadale and Corinthian shared the spoils at Lough Moss after the reds fought back from 2-0 down to earn a draw. Callum Robson’s cheeky touch had Dale a goal up and Connor Allison doubled the difference by half-time.

But goals from Karl Smith and Jordan Sutton in the third quarter made the game all square and that is the way it remained to the final whistle.

Pool B: Monkstown 4 (G Watkins 2, D Carson, L Cole) UCD 1 (L Chadwick); Annadale 2 (C Robson, C Allison) Corinthian 2 (K Smith, J Sutton); Banbridge 7 (B McCandless 2, E Magee, S Dowds, O Magee 2, J McKee) Cork C of I 2 (own goal, S Wolfe)

Men’s Irish Hockey Challenge, semi-final: Armagh 1 (M Russell) Limerick 3 (C Duggan, J Powell, D Cardy); Portrush 5 (A Kerr 2, A Christie, N McMaster, G Christie) Bray 0

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