Boucher gives Glens the impetus in playoff chase

Men’s EY Hockey League – day 17 round-up
Banbridge 2 (S Dowds, O Magee) Three Rock Rovers 1 (J Hosking)

Owen Magee’s final quarter goal in a tempestuous affair at Havelock Park saw Banbridge record their eighth win of the season on a weekend when they passage to the playoffs – which they will host – was confirmed.

After a couple of Rovers corners in the first quarter, Stephen Dowds countered in the 17th minute when he flicked home from Bann’s first set piece of the day. The hosts welcomed back internationals Matthew Bell and Eugene Magee while Peter Blakeney was out with a knee injury as Bann held that advantage until half-time.

Paul McDonnell pushes past Scott Sullivan. Click image for more pics

Paul McDonnell pushes past Scott Sullivan. Click image for more pics

But Rovers were creating the odd chance and, out of nothing, Jody Hosking got the sides back on terms. Owen Magee, however, retook the lead with a flick from a narrow angle after Bell stole possession in a good position.

It came amid a flurry of cards with Drew Carlisle, Philip Brown, Harry Morris and Luke Chadwick all in the sin-bin at the same time. Bann, though, controlled the remainder of the tie. Rovers drop out of the top four as a result.

Glenanne 3 (S Boucher 3) Railway Union 1 (R Forrest)
Glenanne will take the major impetus into the final round of the men’s EY Hockey League in the battle for the fourth and final Champions Trophy playoff place as they somehow ran out 3-1 winners over Railway Union.

As so often this season, Shannon Boucher was the key man, living off scraps but he still managed to rip home a hat trick – his second treble of the season against Railway.

He gave the Tallaght side a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute from a corner, won by Mick McGuinness, at the second attempt. They had to survive a sustained onslaught from Railway, running up 10 penalty corners. They could find no way past the immaculate Lukasz Domachowski while Stephen Brownlow saved another effort off the line.

And so they remained in front until 10 minutes from the end when Richard Forrest netted a scrappy effort from close range. But, from a sharp counter-attack, Stu Ronan latched on to a long overhead and squared for Boucher to score. He added another for good measure at the death, tipping in after Ronan did all the spade work, beating the last defender and shooting at an empty goal, Railway vacating their goalkeeper in favour of an extra outfielder.

The result gives the Glens a one-point buffer over Pembroke, meaning a win next week at Banbridge will see them into the playoffs.

Annadale 2 (M Crookshanks, A McKibbin) Pembroke 5 (A Sothern 2, T Hill, N Burns, J Lynch)
Pembroke moved into the top half of the table for the first time this season as their late season rally saw them get by Annadale 5-2 at Lough Moss, keeping them in the frame for a playoff place that looked a mile away at the turn of the year.

They did so with some familiar faces returning to the line-up with Keith Crawford and Tim Hill making rare appearances. Dale made a fast start with Matthew Crookshanks converting Matthew Allister’s right wing cross for a third minute lead. Alan Sothern served a warning shot with his first corner, turned around the post by David Smyth, before the striker levelled when he took a quick free and shot home on the reverse.

Tim Hill put the visitors ahead in the 18th minute, again from a quick free which Annadale claimed had been taken from the wrong place. Dale were finding Sothern hard to subdue, and he hit the frame of the goal a second time with a clever effort.

The Ulster side were desperate for an equaliser but, with Pembroke intent on keeping possession, found it difficult to penetrate their opponent’s circle. They finally forced a corner in the 39th minute but James Cox’s low effort was easily dealt with by Mark Ingram. Peter McKibbin’s slip a minute later allowed Nick Burns to extend Pembroke’s lead.

And the Dubliners closed out the win when Justin Sheriff rolled back the years with a strong run and a shot which rocketed past the post. Sothern added to Annadale’s misery with a fourth goal after another defensive error.

Andrew McKibbin scores a consolation goal

Andrew McKibbin scores a consolation goal

Jason Lynch pounced on a corner rebound to flash a reverse stick effort high into the net in the 53rd minute. Andrew McKibbin’s consolation goal in the last minute was a superb effort into the roof of the net, giving Ingram no chance.

Cookstown 1 (R Millar) Lisnagarvey 2 (J Lorimer, A Williamson)
Andy Williamson’s late goal placed huge presssure on Cookstown as they now need snookers if they are to avoid the relegation playoff game due to Cork C of I’s Saturday win over Banbridge. Garvey did rest key players like Jonny Bell, Mikey Watt, Paul Gleghorne, John Tormey and Timmy Cockram but were still able to record their 15th win on the spin as the champions moved 16 points clear of the pack.

The visitors started the better as Daniel Buser forced Ian Hughes into an early save before the deadlock was broken in the seventh minute. A scramble in the D resulted in Hughes’ save falling to a Garvey forward who instinctively touched it forward for James Lorimer to tap in from a yard.

For Cookstown, they were reliant on breakaways as Simon Todd and Andy McWhirter went close but no clear cut chances emerged before half-time. The third quarter was a different affair as the hosts came out firing. They were rewarded with a series of short corners with Todd slipping the ball to Ryan Millar to flick into the net. Cookstown pushed on during this phase but Greg Allen’s dink to McWhirter was flashed wide on the volley from the best of their chances.

Garvey still moved quickly on the counter and they landed the killer blow when Neal Glassey found room in the centre to pick out the run of Andy Williamson and his touch evaded the excellent Hughes. Allen won a late corner but it was incomplete and Garvey had the win.

Cookstown now must win against Three Rock in Dublin next week or face, at best, the playoff. A loss could see Annadale potentially overtake them.

Cork C of I vs Monkstown – match postponed due to flooding in Cork

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