Men’s Irish Hockey League
Lisnagarvey and Three Rock Rovers left it late to nick ahead of Pembroke and Cookstown land the two remaining Irish Hockey League semi-final berths on Saturday afternoon, joining Monkstown and Banbridge in the final four.
While pre-match permutations abounded, Three Rock’s situation was simple – a two-goal win over Pembroke would keep alive their treble hopes – and they started off in superb fashion. Peter Blakeney slotted home an eighth minute penalty corner as the striker, along with Mitch Darling and Jody Hosking produced some scintillating hockey.
They went 2-0 up when Alan White finished off at the back post amid a crowded circle, a decent return for a dominant first half performance. Pembroke, who required at least a losing bonus point to advance, stepped up their game markedly in the third quarter and they won a number of corners but Stephen West in rude form, equal to each Alan Sothern effort from the set piece.
Sothern did get his side back into the game on the counter in the 49th minute, finishing off from the centre of the circle to put the game right back in the balance. With Joe Brennan yellow carded for a foul on Maurice Elliott, Rovers were under further pressure but they managed to move back two-goals clear when Hosking nudged over the line following a goalmouth skirmish and that was the crucial moment, securing a 3-1 win and progression.
The news from elsewhere was equally heart-breaking for Pembroke as Daniel Buser’s goal six minutes from time against Cookstown in a 3-2 win saw the Dublin 4 side eliminated. Garvey had trailed against 2-0 in that tie after just three minutes as Raymond Miller and Stuart Smyth fired the Co Tyrone side to an early lead. Lisnagarvey, though, were back on terms by half-time as Buser and Timmy Cockram their way back to 2-2.
In a pulsating second half, both sides were regularly down players due to sin-binnings but the decisive moment came with six minutes left.
Garvey keeper John Tormey made a key save to set in motion his side’s winner as Richard Arneill and Sean Murray combined with Jason Lynch who set up Buser. His low shot across Ian Hughes put his side 3-2 up and through to the semi-finals next weekend.
In the group’s dead rubber, Instonians came from a goal down to defeat Cork Harlequins 5-1.
In Pool B, Monkstown served notice of their intent with a 4-1 win over Banbridge at Havelock Park to top the table. Kyle Good and Lee Cole put them 2-0 up before Stevie Dowds got one back on 33 minutes. Andrew Ward and David Nolan closed out the win in the second half.
UCD finished their maiden campaign in third in the group with a third successive win, seeing off Corinthian 6-3 at Belfield with Ross Canning’s hat-trick a key factor. Cork C of I defeated Annadale 2-1 to end up in fourth in the table with two wins to their name.
Pool A: Pembroke 1 (A Sothern) Three Rock Rovers 3 (P Blakeney, A White, J Hosking); Lisnagarvey 3 (D Buser 2, T Cockram) Cookstown 2 (R Miller, S Smyth); Cork Harlequins 1 (D Hobbs) Instonians 5
Standings: 1. Lisnagarvey 17pts (+7) 2. Three Rock Rovers 16pts (+13) 3. Pembroke 16pts (+4) 4. Cookstown 11pts (+6) 5. Instonians 6pts (-3) 6. Cork Harlequins 0pts (-27)
Pool B: Banbridge 1 (S Dowds) Monkstown 4 (A Ward, L Cole, K Good, D Nolan); Cork C of I 2 (J Jermyn, S Parker) Annadale 1 (M Robson); UCD 6 (R Canning 3, S O’Donoghue, D Watkins, K Shimmins) Corinthian 3
Standings: 1. Monkstown 20pts (+22) 2. Banbridge 16pts (+14) 3. UCD 12pts (+2) 4. Cork C of I 8pts (-9) 5. Annadale 3pts (-14) 6. Corinthian 3pts (-15)
Semi-finals (April 5): 3pm Monkstown v TRR; 5pm Lisnagarvey v Banbridge