Pembroke claim last EY Champions Trophy berth

Men’s EY Hockey League – day 18 round-up
Pembroke 3 (A Sothern, K Shimmins, R Flannery) Cork C of I 2 (S Wolfe, S Sweetnam)

Pembroke completed their late season surge with a 3-2 win over Cork C of I, a result that lifted them into fourth place for the first time this season, taking the final Champions Trophy place with it.

They started in confident fashion with Alan Sothern roofing an early drag-flick from the game’s first corner. Kirk Shimmins added a fine field goal in the ninth minute, tukcing the ball under Billy Lynch for a 2-0 lead. C of I’s cause was not aided by a 10-minute yellow card suspension for Stephen Parker but further goals accrued in the first half.

Simon Wolfe, however, did close the gap in the 32nd minute as the game became an end to end affair but they could not capitalise further when Nick Burns and David Quinn both spent time in the sin-bin. Pembroke countered and won a corner which, on the third attempt, Ronan Flannery forced in.

C of I upped their game in the final quarter and they got back in range from a break-out from an unstopped Pembroke corner. The ball was passed up the pitch and arrived at Stephen Sweetnam who touched over the line. But it was too little too late for the Munster side as Pembroke celebrated their strong end to the campaign.

Banbridge 3 (B McCandless 2, J McKee) Glenanne 2 (D Keogh, E O’Malley)
Banbridge closed out their EY Hockey League regular season with a 3-2 win, a result that ultimately saw Glenanne miss out on a playoff place. Bruce McCandless set the Co Down side on their way when he scored in the first minute with a fine run along the touchline before scoring on his reverse.

Bann were dominant in these early phases with Own Magee going close but Glenanne began to create some chances of their own as time wore on and they were back level before the first quarter was out. It came from a Glens aerial into the Bann circle which Eddie O’Malley applied an audacious shot over his own head on the bounce to lob Gareth Lennox.

Lennox was required to pull off a couple of great double saves to keep the scores level in the second quarter while a couple of Bann corners came to nothing to see it level at the big break.

The hosts established a lead in the third quarter in quick time with McCandless restoring their advantage and Stephen Dowds made it 3-1 from the penalty spot when Eugene Magee was impeded when attempting to shoot.

Cork C of I's Simon Wolfe on the attack. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Cork C of I’s Simon Wolfe on the attack. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Glenanne replied instantly with a stroke of their own which David Keogh dispatched to reduce the deficit and it kick-started their push for an equaliser. A couple of corner chances came and went while McCandless made a save on the line but they could not break through as Bann held on for all three points. Glenanne, meanwhile, were forced to settle for fifth place.

Three Rock Rovers 0 Cookstown 2 (S Todd, G Allen)

Cookstown ensured their place in the men’s EY Hockey League, for a playoff at least, as they struck twice on the counter in the closing quarter to beat Three Rock Rovers. They rode their luck, surviving two open goal chances, a ball off the post and five penalty corners.

The first of those chances came barely a minute into the tie as the ball was worked down the right but Conor Empey was unable to turn home from close range. From there, the tie settled into a low-key affair with Rovers in control of the first quarter before Cookstown had the better of the second phase, especially when Luke Chadwick was in the sin bin with a yellow card. Greg Allen’s rasper drew the best from Jamie Carr.

The second half had a bit more bite to it with Rovers regaining the initiative. Iain Hughes made a couple of top stops at close quarters while Luke Madeley’s drag-flick thudded off the inside of the post.

But Cookstown hit the front moments into the final quarter when Greg Allen showed a nice piece of skill down the left to get away from his marker before taking off. With Rovers shy numbers, he picked out Simon Todd who finished into an open net.

Pembroke celebrate Alan Sothern's opening goal. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Pembroke celebrate Alan Sothern’s opening goal. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Rovers pushed on, trying to get the result they needed to press for a Champions Trophy place, but the finishing touch – without Peter Blakeney’s killer instinct – was lacking as Ross Canning’s effort rolled along the goal line and Hughes tipped away another corner.

Cookstown, meanwhile, killed off the win with two minutes left when Allen picked up the ball just outside the circle and, with no keeper, did very well to drag his shot into circle and into a gaping goal. Jon Ames had missed out on a similarly gilt-edged chance a minute earlier. Rovers end the season in sixth place with Cookstown likely to end in ninth.

Monkstown 6 (G Watkins 3, K Good, G Sarratt, J Bruton) Annadale 3 (M Robson, J Cox, C Roberts)

Annadale made a brave fist of their battle to beat the drop but eventually succumbed to Monkstown’s power in the second half. Connor Roberts deflection with barely a minute played handed Dale a very early lead only for Town to level quickly, Guy Sarratt’s drag-flick taking a deflection off the number one runner into the roof of the net.

Kyle Good then hit the post from a narrow angle in a high octane opening phase of the game. From Dale’s first corner, they went back in front courtesy of James Cox’s drag for 2-1 but parity was restored once more when Jonny Bruton robbed possession, drove into the circle and found the bottom corner.

It left the game level at half-time but Monkstown turned the screw in the second half. Andrew Ward found space to feed Gareth Watkins on the baseline and he beat two defenders before slotting home to put the Dubliners in front for the first time.

And, in the final quarter, Kyle Good’s thunderbolt put daylight between the side and Watkins added a second with a cool finish over Jonny Moore. Michael Robson got one back but there was time for one more attack where Ian Horsfield found Watkins to complete his hat trick. The win ensures Town end the season in second place with Annadale finishing tenth and relegated back to the Ulster leagues.

Lisnagarvey 6 (M Watt 3, T Cockram, M Nelson, A Williamson) Railway Union 0

On the day Lisnagarvey were presented with the inaugural EY Hockey League trophy, the champions eased to their 16th win in succession, showcasing why they set the standards this season.

They welcomed back Mikey Watt, Jonny Bell, Paul Gleghorne, Timmy Cockram and John Tormey to their line-up and showed little mercy to Railway.

Lisnagarvey celebrate their EYHL title. Pic: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

Lisnagarvey celebrate their EYHL title. Pic: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

Watt broke the deadlock in the 17th minute when he collected a pass from Ryan Getty and tomahawked a low shot passed Stephen O’Keeffe from the top of the circle. The two players were instrumental in number two soon after as Getty drove into the circle. His cross was saved by O’Keeffe but only as far as Watt who flicked home.

Watt completed his hat trick in the 37th minute and it became 4-0 soon after when Sean Murray drove around the baseline and picked out Timmy Cockram whose shot squirms under O’Keeffe.

Matthew Nelson nicked in for number five from Sean Murray’s shot and Andy Williamson completed the rout from a corner drag-flick.

Sunday: Cork C of I 3 (J Jermyn 2, J Dale) Monkstown 1 (D Carson)
Cork C of I closed out the men’s EYHL season by avoiding the heavy defeat that might have seen them drop into the relegation playoff, instead beating second placed Monkstown 3-1 at Garryduff in an entertaining tie.

Monkstown started the better team and David Carson put the visitors ahead in the fourth minute from a scramble in the CI circle. Slowly but surely the home side came into the game but Monkstown continued to threaten the CI back line. Richard Sweetnam and Billy Lynch in the CI goal had to be at their best to keep the score to 0-1 at the end of the first quarter.

CI were back on level terms in the 22nd minute when from their first penalty corner Stephen Parkers goal bound shot hit a defender on the body. John Jermyn made no mistake with the stroke despatching it high into the Monkstown net.

The third quarter was end to end action but both goalkeepers were relatively untroubled. Both teams when out of possession were happy to sit and wait and play on the counter. Stephen Sweetnam was leading the line very well for CI and he was ably assisted by Simon Wolfe and the hard working Julian Dale.

The home side played some of their best hockey of the season in the final quarter. Jermyn was proving unplayable in midfield. In the 46th minute, he won possession on his own 23, found Stephen Sweetnam with a pass and then galloped up the field to get the ball back from Sweetnam at the top of the circle, he then played a reverse pass to the onrushing Julian Dale who finished from close range for a cracking goal.

Three minutes later and CI had a two goal cushion. Again, a counter attack led by Stephen Sweetnam saw a real scramble in the Monstown circle which resulted in a penalty corner being awarded to the home side. From the corner Jermyn made no mistake. He buried his flick past Fitzgerald and a helpless defender.

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