Leading trio pull away from chasers; UCD and Glenanne land big wins in relegation battle

Men’s EY Hockey League – day 14 round-up
Three Rock Rovers 3 (L Madeley 2, K Mullins) Monkstown 2 (K Good, G Watkins)
Luke Madeley’s pair of penalty corners saw Three Rock Rovers come from two goals down to win their sixth EY Hockey League game in succession, keeping them within a couple of points of league leaders Banbridge.

In an open game throughout, Rovers had a couple of gilt-edged chances inside the first minute as Mitch Darling’s cross-shot skimmed past the right post while Harry Morris won a corner that Max Maguire saved off the line. Nick Dee also deflected away another drag off the line but, for the most part, Monkstown were the side in greater control of possession and had the majority of the attacks.

They went in front in the tenth minute when Lee Cole’s 45 degree pass from left back found Kyle Good on the right of the circle and he powered home a very impressive opening goal. They also had corner chances to extend their advantage but Jamie Carr kept them out, keeping the gap at the minimum going into half-time.

Town did, however, double up in the 43rd minute via Gareth Watkins as he posted up at the top of the circle and boomed home a brilliant reverse-stick effort into the top corner for a 2-0 lead. Rovers responded with greater control over the ball with Jody Hosking getting things moving on his return from illness. They got one back via Kevin Mullins’ fifth league goal of the season, finishing off from a Hosking cross after the diminutive midfielder robbed possession and squared.

On the three quarter time whistle, Town got pinged for a deliberate foot in the 23m area which handed Rovers a corner chance which Madeley nailed into the bottom corner. And he duly scored the winner with six minutes remaining, this time going the high road to continue Rovers’ strong recent run. For Town, they are playing catch-up for the playoff places after a fourth successive league defeat.

Lisnagarvey 6 (M Nelson 2, D Buser, J Lorimer, T Cockram, S Murray) Cork C of I 1 (A Gray)
Lisnagarvey made a big statement in the race for the three automatic EY Champions Trophy playoff places as they beat their nearest rivals Cork C of I 6-1 at Comber Road. Matthew Nelson broke the deadlock just a few minutes into the tie before Daniel Buser’s slightly miscued finished found its way in, too, for a 2-0 lead at quarter-time.

The second quarter saw Garvey move further ahead with a goal by Sean Murray in the 21st minute before Cork Church of Ireland pulled one back with Andy Gray – back after a lengthy spell out with a broken hand – getting the final touch. But Garvey effectively put the game out of reach by half time with two more goals through Nelson’s second followed by a James Lorimer PC drag flick, extending out a 5-1 advantage.

The third quarter was a cagey affair with no clear cut chances for either side despite C of I going down to nine players for a spell. Timmy Cockram capped the victory with a corner goal in the closing quarter to see out a 6-1 win. Garvey stay three points off top spot in third place behind Banbridge, albeit with a game extra played than Bann and Three Rock Rovers, the other side ahead of them.

Banbridge 4 (J McKee 2, E Magee, R Beattie) Pembroke 1 (A Sothern)
Banbridge continue to lead the way thanks to a confident 4-1 win over Pembroke at Havelock Park with Jonny McKee providing a double, adding to his excellent season. The Co Down side broke the deadlock when Matthew Bell’s monster overhead led to a penalty corner. Eugene Magee’s first up drag-flick was saved but he adapted his body brilliantly to thrash home the rebound.

Pembroke rallied and won a corner of their own that Gareth Lennox saved while another couple of Bann set-pieces were kept out. From the fourth corner for the hosts – early in the second quarter – Bell disguised a drag to the right post where McKee guided home for 2-0.

The third goal arrived in the third quarter when Magee beat Harry Spain to a through ball down the right wing, twisted back inside the defender and crossed on the backhand for McKee to touch in his second.

The fourth came soon after but was hotly contested. Jake Rowe made the incision down the left wing before getting the ball across into the centre where Ross Beattie arrived to slide a first-time backhand shot into the roof of the goal. Pembroke argued the cross came via Rowe’s foot but their protests fell on deaf ears.

Alan Sothern got a consolation drag-flick for Pembroke in the closing few minutes as Pembroke remain in a share of fifth place with Monkstown but 10 points off the playoff places.

Glenanne 4 (S O’Donoghue 2, G Shaw, R Couse) Instonians 0
Shane O’Donoghue’s pair of goals – amid a brilliant second half performance – saw Glenanne score an important win in the battle to avoid the relegation playoff place as Instonians fall deeper under pressure.

Both teams settled into a half court with neither side making any headway in the opening quarter. Glenanne managed to win a couple of corners but the Inst keeper Sam Brown stood tall to deny the lead.
The second quarter was similar fare with both defences holding firm to half-time, locked at 0-0.

Glenanne stepped up right from the start of the second half and took the lead through Richard Couse with a smart finish with a strong flick to the back of the net. O’Donoghue doubled the Glens advantage with a smart reverse strike. And the Tallaght side could have extended their lead but for some fine goalkeeping.

Instonians tried hard to get back into the game and but for some fine goalkeeping from the Leo Micklem and a miraculous diving save from Stephen Brownlow on the goal line the Glens retained their lead.
After weathering the storm, Glenanne opened up and created multiple opportunities. From one superb passage of play, Neil Byrne hit the post and a series of goal line saves kept it at 2-0.

Jonny McKee and Eugene Magee celebrate making it 3-0 to Banbridge. Pic: Billy Pollock

However, Inst conceded again when a smart play by Cillian O’Neill set up Gary Shaw for a good finish. And the fine second half performance when O’Donoghue converted a corner low to the keepers right.

Railway Union 2 (R Devlin, P Catchpole) UCD 3 (J Duncan, B Campbell, B McCrea)
UCD finally ended their seven-game losing streak to record a crucial 3-2 win over Railway Union to move back out of the relegation playoff position. Rob Devlin gave Railway the lead but UCD got back on terms when Ben Campbell drove forward, feeding Andrew Fogarty before getting on the end of the return pass at the back post.

Peter Catchpole restored the Railway lead at 2-1 but they could not make it stick as Ben McCrea made it 2-2. It followed a period of sustained possession, transferring from left to right to David Nolan where he beat a couple of players before squaring to McCrea to sweep home.

The winner came with three minutes to go from a penalty corner with Campbell’s low and hard flick getting the crucial deflection from Jeremy Duncan to secure a vital win. It lifts UCD above Railway into eighth place.

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