Bangor are sitting proudly at the summit of the men’s Ulster Premier League table after a hard-fought 3-2 win over derby rivals North Down on Saturday, writes John Flack.
Buoyed by the influx of players from now-defunct Campbellians, the seasiders have been in terrific form so far after playing in the second-tier last season.
They went ahead in the ninth minute when Michael McComb scored from close range to break the deadlock. Shortly afterwards, Ryan Burgess made it 2-0 from a penalty-corner before North Down pulled one back through Andrew McKibben’s deflected effort.
But Burgess restored Bangor’s two-goal advantage shortly before half-time before Josh Gilmore set up a grandstand finish with a goal four minutes from the end.
However, the Comber side were unable to find an equaliser as Bangor keeper Andy Seay pulled off several fine stops in the dying stages.
At Shawsbridge, Instonians defeated Raphoe 3-1 with goals from William Robinson (2) and Steven Redpath.
Chris Barnes hit yet another hat-trick as Civil Service beat Cliftonville 6-0 while Jordan Robinson also notched a treble in Mossley’s 5-1 win over Queen’s.
Belfast Harlequins scored three times in the last 15 minutes through Michael McKenna (2) and Robin Quigley to draw 3-3 with Portadown.
The Ports had led 3-0 with goals from Robbie Scott, Adam Stevenson and Matt Winter before Quins fought back to snatch a point while South Antrim were 4-2 winners over Antrim in the other game.
Dungannon have taken over at the top of the women’s Ulster Premier League after a 2-1 win over newly-promoted Rainey in Magherafelt.
Georgina Mullan broke the deadlock in the 18th minute to out the Tyrone side in front but Alex Burns levelled matters from a penalty-corner on the stroke of half-time.
Ruth Bell grabbed the winner in the 53rd minute as Dungannon moved ahead of Ballymoney on goal difference at the summit.
Queen’s, who have a game in hand, maintained their 100% record in domestic hockey with a 5-0 win at Portadown, which keeps them in third place.
Emily McStea continued her impressive form since joining from Lurgan as she helped herself to a hat-trick with the other goals coming from Anna Hutchinson and Tori Hastings.
Mossley are fourth in the standings after a late equaliser from Kathryn Smiley earned them a 1-1 draw with Ulster Elks at Jordanstown, where Annabelle Hamilton had put the hosts in front.
Lurgan made it two wins on the bounce with a comfortable 5-0 win over Randalstown at the Antrim Forum where Charlene Hull got two of the goals.
In the other top-flight game, North Down and Banbridge fought out a 1-1 draw, Rachel Lucas scoring for the Comber side and Paula Haugh replying for the visitors.
In Senior One, Priorians stay top after goals from Emma Sproule and Jill Kennedy gave them a 2-1 win over Omagh, whose reply came from Holly Swann.
Lisnagarvey are just behind after Louise McCracken, Jenna Flynn and Rachel Houston scored the goals in a 3-1 win over Ballymena, whose consolation was netted by Emma Clarke.
Rachel Hewit hit two of the goals for Victorians in their 4-0 success over Knock while Sabrina Barnett claimed a double as Raphoe overpowered CI 6-0 in Donegal.
Women’s Ulster Premier League: North Down 1 (R Lucas) Banbridge 1 (P Haugh); Portadown 0 Queen’s 5 (E McStea 3, A Hutchinson, T Hastings); Rainey 1 (A Burns) Dungannon 2 (G Mulligan, R Bell); Randalstown 0 Lurgan 5 (J Wilson, A McCullough, C McCann, C Stewart 2); Ulster Elks 1 (A Hamilton) Mossley (K Smiley)
Senior One: Knock 0 Victorians 4 (R Hewitt 2, H Beattie, A Roberts); Lisnagarvey 3 (L McCracken, J Flynn, R Houston) Ballymena 1 (E Clarke); Priorians 2 (E Sproule, J Kennedy) Omagh 1 (H Swann); Raphoe 6 (S Barnett 2, E Harper, W Patterson, Z Tinney, V Wray) CI 0.
Men’s Ulster Premier: Instonians 3 (W Robinson 2, S Redpath) Raphoe 1 (S Goudie); Antrim 2 (J Roe, A Mullan) South Antrim 4 (C Henry 2, J Brown, P Maguire); Bangor 3 (R Burgess 2, M McCombe) North Down 2 (A McKibben, J Gilmore); Portadown 3 (R Scott, S Stevenson, M Winter) Harlequins 3 (M McKenna 2, R Quigley); Kilkeel v Newry (abandoned due to floodlight failure); Mossley 5 (J Robinson 3, S Hamill, M Anderson) Queen’s 1 (F Harkin); Civil Service 6 (C Barnes 3, S Armstrong, C Bannister, T Priestley) Cliftonville 0.