Spain reigns as Pembroke oust Monkstown; Bann see off Rovers as cups now wide open

Men’s Irish Senior Cup, quarter-finals
The men’s Irish Senior Cup was blown wide open on Saturday following top drawer performances from Pembroke and Banbridge to see off the reigning IHL and ISC champions, respectively.

At Serpentine Avenue, Harry Spain was the inspiration, scoring his first goal of the season before putting in a defensive masterclass against Monkstown in a 2-0 win. Four times, he put in the key tackle to deny Town while he brilliantly denied Gareth Watkins’ power-slap with the goal beckoning.

They were also grateful to the post and crossbar to keep out Watkins and Davy Carson with the game at 1-0 before Cillian Hynes won the tie. He was picked out at the right baseline by Karl Lynch’s ball in from the 25 and still had plenty to do but evaded a defender before pulling on his reverse into the backboard.

Prior to the tie, Town goalkeeper David Fitzgerald suffered a back spasm that limited his movement to some extent. He saw Spain twice shoot home from corners, the first ordered to be retaken after a technical foul and it stayed that way for a long time. Monkstown held more of the play but Pembroke proved the more clinical and advance to the final four.

There, Banbridge will probably be viewed as the main opponent as they stretched their winning run to 14 wins in all competitions. They ended Three Rock Rovers’ reign as champions with Stevie Dowds scoring twice in the last ten minutes to land a 3-1 success in Havelock Park.

Rovers were the better side early on, drawing a string of good stops from Gareth Lennox and Bruce McCandless blocked a corner effort but Dowds was always the key man and looked dangerous with virtually each attack, drawing two strong saves from Stephen Dawson.

Bann rode that early phase and took the lead two minutes before half-time when Matthew Bell lasered a pass to Neil Gilmore who picked out his former Portadown team mate Jamie Wright to pop home.

After Bell hit the post, Rovers were back on terms from turnover ball when Jonny Bruton and Johnny McCormack combined in midfield and set up Peter Blakeney for 1-1.

The Rathfarnham side suffered 17 minutes-worth of second half suspensions but still almost nicked a lead. Garry Ringwood had an effort ruled out for a shot deemed to be on his back-stick and let slip two corners.

Pembroke's Mark Ingram makes a spectacular effort to deny a Monkstown corner Pic: Adrian Boehm

Pembroke’s Mark Ingram makes a spectacular effort to deny a Monkstown corner Pic: Adrian Boehm

Dowds was less wasteful and scored with six minutes left from the circle’s edge – his 35th of the season – before capping the game with a last minute penalty corner.

It keeps alive their bid for a first success in the competition since 1986 and step closer to a first final since 1994.

Railway Union, finalists in 2012, just about shaded their date with Glenanne, Rob Abbott’s penalty corner goal the clincher in a thrill-a-minute 1-0 win despite the low-scoring nature of the tie.

Both Craig Ellis – back after a month out – and Lukasz Domachowski had impressive games between the posts in a game regularly stretched from end to end. But, after going toe to toe in a slugging match, Abbott netted with the silver goal on the half-time whistle in extra time.

In the outstanding quarter-final match, Lisnagarvey were 8-1 winners over Corinthian, setting up a quarter-final date with Cork C of I.

Quarter-finals: Pembroke 2 (H Spain, C Hynes) Monkstown 0; Banbridge 3 (S Dowds 2, J Wright) Three Rock Rovers 1 (P Blakeney); Railway Union 1 (R Abbott) Glenanne 0, after extra time
Round two: Lisnagarvey 8 (A Williamson 4, J Bell, A Forrest, S Dowling, D Nelson) Corinthian 1

Mills Cup, second round
Corinthian produced an excellent smash and grab effort to compound a rough weekend for Monkstown who bowed out of two cup competitions in two days.

For the reds, the likes of David Howard, Andrew Sutton and Ross Murray had excellent games to limit the Town threat and land their best win of the season to date, earning a semi-final date with either Railway Union or Rathgar.

Gareth Watkins pounced on a Lee Cole corner rebound for an eighth minute lead. Howard levelled from a switch move soon after but Nick Dee ensured Monkstown had the half-time lead when he pushed in low and hard.

Ian Stewart, though, lit up the second half as he applied a beautiful lob over Jamie Carr to equalise at 2-2 from a three on three counter-attack. Town had a last minute corner but ended up being caught at the far end as it was defended and Howard duly launched a long aerial forward. A corner was won and Stewart finished it off with nine seconds remaining for a big upset.

Glenanne are through to the semis to face either Three Rock Rovers or YMCA following a 5-1 win over UCD. Eddie O’Malley, though, picked up a red card for striking out which may curtail his comeback.

Mills Cup second round: Glenanne 5 (E Tucker, S Brownlow, P Gahan, S Ronan, M McGuinness) UCD 1 (G Morrow); Monkstown 2 (G Watkins, N Dee) Corinthian 3 (I Stewart 2, D Howard)
Neville Cup, quarter-finals: Fingal 2 YMCA 4 (T Ritchie, A Meates, J Fourie, J Tobin); Rathgar 0 Avoca 1 (A Ramsay)

Irish Hockey Challenge
Round one:
Armagh 3 St James’s Gate 2;; Bray 4 (C Hussey 2, J Collins, G Evans) Midleton 1; Dublin University 5 (A Rooney, C Stephens, V de Jongh, S Nolan, C Montgomery) Cliftonville 0; Galway 1 (D Colleran) Portrane 1 (P Conway), Portrane win 4-3 on strokes

Simon McKeever and Paddy Conlon celebrate Harry Spain's opening goal Pic: Adrian Boehm

Simon McKeever and Paddy Conlon celebrate Harry Spain’s opening goal Pic: Adrian Boehm

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