Men’s EY Hockey League Playoffs – Knock-out matches
UCD 2 (D Nolan, J Duncan) Clontarf 0
UCD produced a huge defensive effort to go with early goals from David Nolan and Jeremy Duncan to set up a rematch with Instonians for a place in next season’s EY Hockey League.
It was played at break-neck speed throughout with UCD making many of the early inroads, hitting the front in the seventh minute when Nolan picked up the ball on the left of the D and thundered through Stephen Cairns’s defences for 1-0.
The second came soon after when Duncan got on the end of a ball in from the left to apply a fine finish. From there, the game settled into a pattern of Tarf holding the vast majority of the ball, probing the 23 and the D but unable to unpick a hole in the UCD defences.
Ben McCrea was immaculate at the base of their defence, making a series of strong interventions, picking off the runs of Kevin and John Mullins as they grew frustrated. Four corners were also shut down, just one of which was saved – McCrea batting off the line.
John Lennon’s deflection into the net was deemed a strike on goal and too high from a corner with a few minutes to go. UCD, meanwhile, looked the more dangerous when they attacked with several counter-attack chances from long balls but none stuck. In the end, they did not need any of them and prevailed 2-0.
Now they will look to overturn last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Instonians and earn a place in the EYHL final.
Instonians 3 (J Dowling 3) Bandon 0
James Dowling’s first half hat trick saw Instonians ease through to the final of the men’s EY Hockey League playoffs, seeing off Bandon’s challenge with something to spare.
He got them on the board in the seventh minute with a very sharp pick-up in the circle and then fired home with a backhand volley. Alan Patterson cracked the post a minute later from Mark Irwin’s cross in a dominant opening phase.
Dowling made it 2-0 from a swift turnover on halfway led to a three on one chance, a supremely calm finish from the right of the circle.
Dowling closed out the half with the third, a brilliant team goal with the hugely impressive James Corry involved at two different points in the race up the left flank. Dowling slid in at the right post to finish off.
Bandon’s best chance of a comeback was denied by the post early in the second half but they smashed their shot off the post. Amid a series of cards after that, the west Cork side never looked likely to produce a comeback and Inst marched through.