Banbridge produce the goods to stay clear and land men’s EY title in frantic goal difference battle

Men’s EY Hockey League – day 18 round-up
Banbridge 6 (F Mills 2, M Bell 2, E Magee, R Beattie) Railway Union 1 (M English)
Banbridge produced the goals they needed to stay clear of Three Rock Rovers in dramatic fashion, managing to do enough to win the EY Hockey League title on goal difference on a day of frantic checking of phones between Havelock Park and Grange Road.At three quarter-time, Rovers looked like they could potentially close the gap fully before a strong late showing for Bann meant they kept the lead they had held for so long.

Bann started strongly with a Fraser Mills effort on target early on for 1-0, this was followed by a Ross Beattie reverse which hit the side board. Railway were sitting deep trying to hit the home side on the counter attack.A great attack by Bruce McCandless set up the chance but Johnny McKee flicked just over. Then Matthew Allister sees his shot taken off the line, towards the end of the quarter Bann saw a Mathew Bell short corner flick hit the post.

They added another couple in the second quarter when a Peter Brown pass found Mills who scored his second.Railway’s keeper Stephen O’Keeffe was very busy but proving difficult to beat. Bann did win a penalty stroke; Matthew Bell sending O’Keefe the wrong way for 3-0 at the break while Rovers were 6-0 up on Instonians in Dublin, halving the goal difference deficit.The third quarter was a more even affair, but Bann continued to push for more goals. Brown was outstanding in midfield, winning possession and turning defence into attack.

He was well supported by McCandless, Beattie and Sam Farson who put in great shifts but they did see Mark English pull a goal back from a corner for Railway to trim the gap.Bann soon won another short corner, a great switch at the top saw Eugene Magee send a rocket goal bound only for the defender to stop it illegally on the line. Bell coolly sent the keeper the wrong way again to make it 4-1 to Bann. Ross Beattie then finished well to make it 5-1 to re-strengthen their position.

In the final quarter, Bann pushed for another goal with news from Grange Road that Three rock had scored again to make it 8-0. Railway were defending well as a team as they knew their EYHL league survival was on the line too. A great bit of play between Peter Brown and Fraser Mills on the left saw a cross put in and there was Eugene Magee at the back post to score the 6th goal and make it 6-1 to Bann. With the news that William Robinson had scored for Instonians in Dublin, Bann could finally breathe easier, getting them over the line for a memorable league victory.

Three Rock Rovers 9 (L Madeley 3, K Mullins 2, R Canning, M Darling, J Hosking, C Empey) Instonians 1 (W Robinson)
Three Rock Rovers hammered Instonians 9-1 at Grange Road in their final EY Hockey League game of the season but the result proved not quite enough for them to overhaul Banbridge, missing out on the title by three goals on goal difference.

From the outset, they needed to outscore Bann by six goals and they got off to the perfect start with Mitch Darling scoring inside two minutes. Kevin Mullins forced home a second in the seventh minute and a Jody Hosking strike followed seconds later – a brilliant reverse stick effort – to build a 3-0 lead with just eight minutes gone.

Luke Madeley’s drag-flick accounted for the fourth goal before Conor Empey slammed in the fifth on the half-hour mark after the ball bounced fortuitously off umpire Robert Johnston. Another Madeley drag made it 6-0 at the break. All the while, goals were raining down at Banbridge, too, extending the Rovers’ required goals which slowed up somewhat in the second half.

Madeley completed his hat trick before Ross Canning coolly slotted home from close range for 8-0 by the end of the third quarter. At this stage, 11 goals was the target but the killer blow to Rovers’ title hopes arrived when William Robinson scored from Inst’s only corner. Mullins grabbed a second goal with time running out but Rovers ended three goals short of Banbridge, ending with an 11th successive win but second place on goal difference.

Pembroke 4 (J Ryan 2, D Quinn 2) UCD 2 (J Duncan, A Keane)
UCD let a half-time lead slip against Pembroke to see them fall into the EY Promotion-Relegation playoff game, setting up a repeat of last year’s game against Cookstown at the same stage of the playoffs. Goals from Jeremy Duncan and Andy Keane had them in good shape before Pembroke struck three times after the break for the victory. Throughout Pembroke had to thank Ingram for several last man saves, making a first key intervention from Duncan on the reverse in the 12th minute.

UCD scored in the 15th minute through Andrew Keane to make it 1-0 slightly against the run of play with Jack Ryan, Alan Sothern, Andrew Shekleton and Patrick Good all having efforts on goal. Ryan did get them level in the 18th minute from a corner rebound but UCD went back in front as half-time closed in. It came from a Pembroke corner that was cleared quickly, leading to a corner at the far end. Duncan deflected home for 2-1.

The second half, though, saw Pembroke find a greater efficiency in front of goal. In the 41st minute, David Quinn showed how it should be done for a blistering reverse which flew into the UCD net, past his namesake Conor, to equalise the scores 2-2. Quinn again was prominent from midfield and, in the 57th minute, he drove along the end line and his strong cross took a deflection off Ziggy De Boe Agnew and nestled in the UCD net to give Pembroke the lead for the first time in the match.

There were more excellent saves by Ingram in the 61st and 62nd minutes as Pembroke were exposed by lofted balls. But, in the 65th minute, Ryan got his second goal on the reverse which flashed past Quinn in the UCD goals to make the game safe.

Three Rock Rovers led out by the Three Rock Rockets before their game with Instonians. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Lisnagarvey 3 (T Cockram 2, A Williamson) Monkstown 4 (D Carson 2, M Romoli, G Cole)
Monkstown rubber-stamped their place in the EY Champions Trophy playoffs with a 4-3 win over Lisnagarvey at Comber Road with Geoff Cole grabbing the winner two minutes from time,Davy Carson’s snap-shot from close range gave Town a seventh minute lead which Timmy Cockram countered from a corner in first quarter stoppage time.It remained that way through to a mad-cap final quarter in which Williamson put Garvey in front before Carson nabbed his second for 2-2. Matteo Romoli restored Monsktown’s lead with mere minutes to go only for Cockram to tie things once again. Cole, though, had the deciding vote with his second goal of the week for a 4-3 success.

Glenanne 1 (E O’Malley) Cork C of I 0
Glenanne closed out their season in fine fashion, running up a third win in their last four games to end in seventh place overall as Eddie O’Malley’s single goal made the difference at St Mark’s.

After battling the rest of their province to get to Dublin, with a Munster exodus to the Aviva Stadium, the C of I squad arrived in Glenanne after a tortuous four and a half hour drive. Both teams started promisingly but found the pitch very dry and not conducive to flowing hockey, leading to something of a stalemate.

C of I worked hard to press Glenanne while the hosts aimed to play on the counter but both defences held firm to half-time.The Glens stepped up right from the start of the 2nd half and won a number of corners with Shane O’Donoghue firing wide of the left upright. The deadlock was broken from another corner when the ball was switched left to Sam O’Connor who flashed a pass left of the keeper for a deft finish from O’Malley.

C of I tried hard to get back into the game and, with Glenanne shipping a couple of cards, they created a number of openings but found Leo Micklem unbeatable, making a number of fine saves to deny an equaliser. Back to full complement, the next goal looked more likely to come from Glenanne with a number of counter attacks being squandered. The final chance of the game came fell to C of I right on the final whistle but a goalward looping ball was picked out of the air by Joe Brennan for the win.

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