Town destined for EHL with superb victory in Italy as Bann also succeed

EuroHockey Club Champions Trophy
Monkstown 2 (Peter Caruth, Davy Carson) HC OKS-SHVSM (Ukraine) 0

** Report from David Varian

Monkstown Hockey Club were crowned European Champions last weekend when their men’s team captured the EuroHockey Club Trophy in Cagliari, Sardinia.

Graham Shaw’s side won four games in four days to take first place in the tournament, making a serious statement of intent and setting themselves up with a massive chance of being promoted to a position in the Euro Hockey League next season.

Monkstown celebrate their gold medal in the Champions Trophy in Italy last Monday

Monkstown celebrate their gold medal in the Champions Trophy in Italy last Monday

After defeating the Italian champions Bra HC 6-0, the Austria’s Navax AHTC Wien 5-1 and the Azerbaijan’s Atasport 3-2, Monkstown qualified for the European Trophy Final on Monday in Cagliari, Sardinia to meet Ukrainian top dogs HC OKS-SHVSM. The Ukrainians were top class opposition with a squad that included nine internationals.

In sweltering heat of over 30 degrees, Monkstown started brightly with Peter Caruth deflecting over from close range and David Nolan firing just wide. Town’s defence was playing solidly and stifled the disciplined deep approach and indoor hockey push-and-deflect tactics which the Ukrainians used.

On 28 minutes, the deadlock was broken when David Carson picked the ball up on the left hand half-way line and made a great run, holding off two defenders down the wing and his reverse cross was turned home by a sliding Caruth.

In the second half, the Ukrainians pushed forward more and won three short corners in a row which were defended by the hard running of Kyle Good and the line defence of Nick Dee and Lee Cole.

On another occasion, the Ukrainians broke free down the right only to be thwarted by a great save from David Fitzgerald. As time went on, the sky blues were getting more opportunities on the break where Gareth Watkins fired narrowly wide from a good position, Good hit the post and there was an excellent save from an Andy Ewington short corner shot.

However, on 66 minutes Monkstown sealed the victory when a thrust from Good found Watkins on the left byline and his excellent cross was pushed home from close range by Carson.

The final few minutes passed without event and Monkstown were crowned champions which sent their crowd of 60 supporters wild. The Town strength in depth was key to the victory where the whole 18 man squad needed to be used in the stifling conditions that were very different to what the club are accustomed to. In fact the squad drank 60 litres of water to maintain hydration during the match.

It was a fitting end to the career of player/coach Graham Shaw who has played first team hockey in Ireland and Europe for almost 20 years and won over 150 caps for Ireland. He announced his retirement from playing after the match.

In addition to the celebrations, David Fitzgerald was voted Goalkeeper of the Tournament.

In the Czech Republic, meanwhile, Banbridge secured the gold medal with a hard fought win over a determined Azerbaijani Akkord side in scorching temperatures in Rakovnik to win the Champions Challenge I title.

In a rather ill tempered match a Stephen Dowds hat-trick was the difference as Bann ended the weekend as winners of the tournament with a 6-3 victory.

Banbridge's Champions Challenge I gold medal winning side in Rakovnik

Banbridge’s Champions Challenge I gold medal winning side in Rakovnik

Partners of The Hook