Glenanne produce yet another stunning comeback win and Christmas number one spot

Men’s EY Hockey League – day 10 round-up
Glenanne 4 (S O’Connor, S Boucher, S O’Donoghue, G Shaw) Pembroke 3 (S Sweetnam, A Sothern, R Lynch)
Glenanne showed yet another incredible example of their fighting spirit to net twice in the last three minutes to turn a potential 3-2 defeat into a 4-3 win at St Andrew’s against Dublin rivals Pembroke.

It was their seventh win of the campaign by a single goal and their eighth in total, seeing them remain unbeaten into Christmas and four points clear of the chasing Three Rock Rovers.

Sam O’Connor got the greens off to a dream start when he exchanged passes with Richie Shaw and then applied a dinked finish over Mark Ingram. Pembroke replied with three corners in the first quarter while Jack Ryan and Nick Burns had big chances with Iain Walker excelling. Ingram tipped over Shannon Boucher’s rasping reverse.

In the second quarter, Walker brilliantly denied Patrick Shanahan from point blank range from a fifth corner before Pembroke got level after good baseline play opened the chance for Stephen Sweetnam to score.

Shane O’Donoghue was denied from Glenanne’s first corner on the half-time whistle while another big chance for him went high and over in the second half. Alan Sothern put Pembroke in front for the first time in the 45th minute when Richard Sweetnam intercepted and laid on a delicious pass which the striker added a finish to match on his backhand over Walker.

Glenanne celebrate their final second victory. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Walker won the next duel with Sothern with an out-stretched toe, keeping the scoreline at 2-1 at the third quarter break. Glenanne tied the game up with nine minutes to go when Boucher took on drag-flicking duties to score low on the stick side.

Within a minute, Walker made two great saves but the latter fell to Richard Lynch who scooped in to restore the Pembroke lead. Burns then had a chance to wrap up the game but he saw Walker come out to get a touch that lifted his shot onto the top of the goal.

The goalkeeper was pulled after that and the Glens duly profited. O’Donoghue was felled when through one-on-one, stepping up to score a stroke in the 68th minute for 3-3. And they did not rest on their laurels, forging two big attacks in the closing phases, the last of which saw Gary Shaw exchange passes down the left with his brother Richie before racing in and lifting over the goalkeeper – the last act in a classic tie.

Lisnagarvey 1 (M Nelson) Three Rock Rovers 3 (L Madeley 2, R Canning)
Three Rock produced their strongest performance of the season to date in a high quality tie at Comber Road, reversing the result from their first meeting this season.

Garvey had more of the possession in the first quarter and had a couple of circle enteries before opening the scoring in the 8th minute. Andy Williamson fed Matthew Nelson sliding in on the back post after a quick counter-attack set them through two on two.

Rovers equalised 15 minutes in when a mis-injected corner led to a couple of attempts at goal before falling to Ross Canning near the baseline and he quickly flicked in, indoor-style.

Luke Madeley then struck from a corner for 2-1 at the end of the first quarter and it stayed that way into the big break. High quality play from Garvey got them to the baseline on a couple of occasions after half-time but Rovers defended well to limit the danger.

The fourth quarter was again played at a very high pace. Jamie Carr made two stunning saves, the latter the best as he somehow got up to swat away for close range after an initial save.

Rovers put the result to bed with three minutes to go when Madeley – one of just three attackers at the head of the circle – scored his second. Garvey’s hopes of a fightback were then stymied as Paul Gleghorne picked up a card.

Luke Madeley celebrates making it 3-1. Pic: Andrew McKibbin Photography (click for more images)

Railway Union 2 (R Devlin, S McKeever) Cork C of I (A Gray)
Simon McKeever’s second half goal saw Railway Union claim their first win and their first points of the men’s EY Hockey League campaign, putting a much brighter complexion on their hopes of avoiding the drop in the new year.

After a scoreless and reasonably chanceless first quarter, Railway skipper Rob Devlin broke the deadlock from play in the second only for Andy Gray to tie things up for C of I from a corner.

McKeever put Railway back in front in the third quarter from a set piece and the Sandymount side managed to hold on to that slender advantage until full-time. It halves the gap between them and Cookstown, meaning they are one-win off ninth spot, raising hopes they can avoid the automatic relegation spot.

Banbridge 2 (J Wright, F Mills) Monkstown 3 (G Sarratt, D Carson, S Cole)
Monkstown just about clung on to a three-goal half-time lead to continue Banbridge’s miserable run of results this season. The Dubliners went in front from a corner in the 14th minute with Guy Sarratt netting a low drag-flick.

Davy Carson then scored when Bann – who had Jonny McKee finally back in their line-up – failed to clear while Stephen Cole got the third before the half-time whistle arrived.

The three-goal advantage held throughout the third quarter as Gareth Lennox kept out a few more corners while McKee also drew a good stop from Dave Fitzgerald.

Jamie Wright got Bann on the board with 12 minutes to go after good work from Fraser Mills who subsequently scrambled home a second six minutes later on his reverse. And they won a corner with the final play but Fitzgerald saved to see Town hold on for the three points.

The result sees them close the gap Pembroke in fourth place to one point while Banbridge reamin in eighth place, waiting for their first win since day two of the campaign.

Annadale 1 (R Carr) Cookstown 1 (M Kerr)
The two promoted sides shared the spoils with Michael Kerr’s second quarter goal cancelled out by a drag-flick from Rhiley Carr. The result means Annadale remain in sixth place on 11 points after their nine matches while Cookstown are in ninth in the relegation playoff position on six points.

Cookstown started the game well and had a couple of good chances. However, Annadale were quick on the counter-attack and on several occasions the Reds had to get in last ditch tackles to nullify the threat.

The best chance in a very pacey opening quarter fell to Kerr from the short corner set piece.

The action remained on a knife-edge in the second quarter until Cookstown grabbed the lead through the efforts of brothers, Michael and Danny Kerr. Danny fired the ball into the circle for older sibling Michael to delicately touch home past the advancing Johnny Moore in goal.

Annadale responded with some excellent chances and had the ball in the Cookstown red zone for what seemed like an eternity. Several times it seemed like the Carryduff men simply had to score only for tenacious defending from Josh McCabe’s defensive unit to see the danger cleared.

Dale finally got their goal through a blockbuster drag-flick from Carr, which went low to McCabe’s right. The Reds were on top for much of the third quarter but chances from Keith Black, Greg Allen and Ryan Millar all went without conversion.

The result means Annadale remain in sixth place on 11 points after their nine matches while Cookstown are in ninth on six points.

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