Town stun EYHL champs Bann to reach Champs Trophy final

Men’s EY Champions Trophy semi-final
Monkstown 3 (D Carson 2, L Cole) Banbridge 3 (O Magee 2, E Magee), Monkstown win 6-5 on shoot-out

Monkstown won a dramatic shoot-out in the third round of sudden death, getting the better of league and Irish Senior Cup champions Banbridge after an incredible 3-3 draw in normal time.

Town looked perfectly set to win the tie with something to spare as Davy Carson’s second half double had them 3-1 up with barely four minutes to go. But two Owen Magee strikes earned Bann a reprieve, the second of them coming with just 43 seconds on the timer to give them a shoot-out chance.

Both clubs had experienced heartbreak in this format in recent months, Town losing the Mills Cup final and Bann going out of the Euro Hockey League. This time, both were more effective in attack than before.

Banbridge’s Matthew Allister and Monkstown’s Karl Smith battle for a high ball. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Town took the early initiative with Karl Smith, Kyle Good and Karl Lynch all scoring for a 3-1 lead but Bann hung in there with two brilliant Luke Roleston saves. Jonny McKee rescued a sudden death chance when his effort was adjudged to have cleared the line before the eight-second whistle to much debate and consternation.

It meant three rounds of sudden death before McKee was beaten by the whistle on his second attempt. Karl Lynch was fouled allowing Lee Cole the chance to slam in a penalty stroke and the winning goal.

The Dubliners were the better side in the first half and took a 1-0 lead going into the big break thanks to another Lee Cole stroke, awarded after a drag-flick hit Owen Magee’s body on the line.

Bann did have major chances, though, with Eugene Magee hooking a close range flick wide while a flurry of shots in succession were also scrambled away in the last minute.
The second half was very different with Bann penning Town in their own 23 metre area for long periods and winning corner after corner. From one, Eugene Magee shot home a brute of a shot for 1-1 and they looked set to pile on the pressure.

But within three minutes they were playing catch-up once again as Carson – the season’s top scorer to date – got set free one-on-one. He brilliantly dodged left and then hit into the goal on his reverse.

Monkstown’s David Cole celebrates a goal. Pic: Adrian Boehm

With 12 minutes to go, Carson made it 3-1 from another break-out against the run of play, sliding to get a touch to Andrew Ward’s right wing cross and it looked like Town were home and hosed.
Bann kept on pushing, though, and got one back when Fraser Mills’ cross found Owen Magee at the near post to finish. Magee was then set free on the right in the last minute and swept a rocket into the top left corner for what could have been a famous comeback.

Town recovered, though, and took back the momentum in the shoot-out to earn their final berth.

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