Luke McClelland scored an early candidate for goal-of-the-season as Belfast Harlequins stormed into an early 2-0 lead against Civil Service in the Kirk Cup on Saturday but the home team had to settle for a 3-3 draw after a thrilling contest at Deramore.
McClelland whacked a first-time shot into the net off the crossbar in the from the edge of the circle in the fourth minute after a five-man, first-time passing move which prompted Quins’ coach Fergie Cosgrove to say a loud ‘thank you’ from the dug-out.
Four minutes later, it was 2-0 after an equally clinical finish, without the intricate build-up, as Mattie Gray hammered the ball home from a wide angle after McClelland’s initial shot had been saved.However, Service fought back and Chris Barnes sent a drag-flick high into the net from his side’s second penalty-corner to reduce the arrears in the 28th minute.
With 13 minutes left, Barnes, who had scored hat-tricks in the previous two games, levelled matters from the penalty-spot after Chris Lemon had kept the ball out of the net with his foot.
Four minutes later, the impressive Matty Willis made it 3-2 to the visitors with a blistering shot from am acute angle. But Quins weren’t to be denied as McClelland grabbed the equaliser with five minutes remaining when he scored from close-range.
The result harms Service’s chances of reaching the semi-finals after rivals Instonians made ot two from two with a 4-1 win over North Down at Shaw’s Bridge where team captain William Robinson scored two of the goals.
Kilkeel kept up their 100% record with a 5-1 victory over Newry while last season’s Senior One champions, South Antrim. were 3-0 winners over Portadown.
In the women’s Denman Ulster Shield, Queen’s and Banbridge are the first teams into the semi-finals after a 4-1 win over Lurgan and a 1-0 success over Rainey respectively.
Irish international Jessica McMaster hit a double for the students, who had trailed 1-0 at the break after Jo-Anne Wilson had scored for the holders
However, it was far from plain sailing for Queen’s, who, on their own admission, were flattered by the scoreline, if not the result.
Coach Simon Bell declared: “We had to work hard for it and maybe 2-1 might have been a fairer reflection of the pattern of the game.”
“Once we had gone 4-1 up after being a goal down at half-time, they threw everything at us and we let them back into and had to defend well to defend our lead.
“However, we are delighted to be in the semi-finals again and there’s still a chance we could meet Lurgan in the final as the second place in the group is still very much up for grabs.”
With Lurgan’s game with Dungannon postponed last week, the runners up spot is likely to be disputed by those two teams.
On Friday night, Dungannon defeated Randalstown 3-1 with goals from Laura White, Lynda Elliott and Andrea McKay, with CJ McDonald replying.
Banbridge joined Queen’s in the last four in the other group after making it three wins in a row after Stef McCullough grabbed the only goal of the game against Rainey in Magherafelt.
The Ulster Elks got their first win of the season after beating Portadown 5-1 at Edenvilla Park, the goals coming from Judithe Allen, who got two, Hannah Irwin, Annabelle Hamilton and Shannon Atkinson with Leanne Cassells replying.
In the other game, Ballymoney, who are unlikely to progress after two defeats earlier in the campaign, defeated North Down 2-0 with goals from Charlotte Stacey and Olivia Mullan.
Meanwhile, Pegasus and Belfast Harlequins finalised their preparations for the delayed start to the new EYHL season by fighting out a 3-3 draw in a friendly at Deramore where the home team were 3-1 ahead in the third quarter.
Ulster Shield, Pool A: Randalstown 1 (CJ McDonald) Dungannon 3 (L White, L Elliott, A McKay); Portadown 1 (L Cassells) Ulster Elks 5 (J Allen 2, H Irwin, A Hamilton, S Atkinson); Rainey 0 Banbridge 1 (S McCullough)
Pool B: Lurgan 1 (J-A Wilson) Queen’s 4 (E McStea, E Getty, J McMaster 2); North Down 0 Ballymoney 2 (C Stacy, O Mullan)
Senior Cup: Pool A: Ballymena 3 (E Clarke, K Young, K Craig) Priorians 1; Omagh 0 Victorians 3 (J Orr, R Hewitt, E Cutrona); CI 0 Raphoe 2 (E Harper, S Patterson).
Kirk Cup Pool A: Kilkeel 5 (D Finlay 2, J Aiken, L Russell, M Henning) Newry 1 (C McKnight); South Antrim 3 (J Moore, W Phillips, C Henry) Portadown 0.
Pool B: Instonians 4 (W Robinson 2, G Leckey, B Palmer) North Down 1 (J Gilmore); Belfast Harlequins 3 (L McClelland 2, M Gray) Civil Service 3 (C Barnes 2, M Willis)
Linden Cup: Armagh 3 Cliftonville 2 (J Stevenson, McKimm); Antrim 4 (D Wilson 2, R McClintock, A Linford) Ballynahinch 1 (W Edgar); Bangor 5 (D McClune 2, R Burgess, M McCombe, Z McKee) Raphoe 1 (A Meehan)