Three Rock Rovers retained the National Indoor Trophy title with an 8-5 win over arch rivals Railway Union at St Columba’s with Ross Canning netting four times in the decider.
Prior to Christmas, Canning was invited to South Africa to play as part of a World Stars team as part of the Pro Series Indoor competition, lining out alongside a number of indoor world cup and European champions.
And the experience has helped him elevate his game in the often over-looked version of the sport in Ireland. It reversed their 7-4 defeat to Railway last weekend in the Leinster final but respective call-ups to the Irish senior men’s outdoor squad meant both sides had to make changes.
Jeremy Duncan was the key man for the Sandymount club with five goals in that final and they missed that cutting edge. Rovers were without defenders Luke Madeley and Daragh Walsh for the same reason but their replacements, Eckart Geyer and the vastly experienced Peter McConnell, actually strengthened their hand.
Earlier in the three-team group, Railway saw off Queen’s 6-3 before Rovers ran up a 17-2 victory against the Ulster champions.
It meant the Rathfarnham club needed just a draw in the last game of the competition. Rovers led 2-0 at the half-time break with Canning scoring twice – once from a corner, once from a penalty stroke – to put them in control. His third extended the lead from a Jody Hosking pull-back.
Railway got on the board via Tyron Kritzinger, quickly countered by Harry Morris before a swift comeback brough the game back to 4-4 – Kenny Carroll scoring two corners, dummying another to set up Eoin MacArthur.
But a pair of Ben Walker goals inside a minute restored a 6-4 lead for Rovers and they were out of range from there on, Canning capping the win with his fourth goal. Carroll got another for Railway before Jody Hosking flicked into an unpadded goal on the final whistle.
On Saturday outdoors, meanwhile, the expected sides pushed on in the Leinster Senior Mills Cup. Monkstown won 3-2 against Railway Union in the battle between the two national league sides with Andrew Sykes, Geoff Cole and Davy Carson on the mark.
Three Rock found things harder than expected in a scoreless first half against Rathgar before prevailing 4-0 with two goals from Mitch Darling and one each from Harry Morris and Kevin Mullins. They play Town in the final four.
Glenanne scored six first half goals in a 7-2 win over Clontarf while Corinthian completed the semi-final line-up with a 4-1 win over Kilkenny with Ian Stewart scoring twice against the cats for the second weekend in a row. They left it late, though, scoring twice in the closing few minutes when the cats had withdrawn their goalkeeper.
It means an interesting fixture sequence will be in place for the St Patrick’s weekend when the Mills Cup final takes place. A day later on Sunday March 18, three of the Irish Senior Cup quarter-final refixes have been set to be played with Monkstown, Rovers and Glenanne all involved, meaning at least one side is in for a busy holiday weekend.
In Leinster Division One, UCD recorded a big 3-0 win over YMCA to move level on 29 points with Corinthian – albeit with two extra games played – as Andrew Ramsay, Andrew Meates and John Guilfoyle all hit the target.
For YM, they are still clear in the third playoff spot but are within range of Avoca with their next outing a date with Corinthian on February 4.
On Sunday, Kilkenny moved up two places with another big win to their name, running up an 8-1 Sunday success against Dublin North. They have just one loss in their last six games after five defeats to start the campaign and have scored 17 times in the last two matches with Ben Wallace’s hat trick making it 10 for the season.
Portrane won a cracker down in Limerick 5-4 in the Irish Hockey Trophy, setting up a derby clash with Dublin North. The purples have been bolstered by Skerries player Brian McMahon in recent times and he will work well with Imran Khan and Mukhtar Ahmed.
Their tie went back and forth throughout with brother Riley and Cameron Shoebridge dicing for family bragging rights. Khan netting twice in the victory.
National Indoor Trophy: Railway Union 6 Queen’s 3; Three Rock Rovers 17 Queen’s 2; Railway Union 5 Three Rock Rovers 8
Final standings: 1. Three Rock Rovers 6pts (+18) 2. Railway Union 3pts (0) 3. Queen’s 0pts (-18)
Mills Cup, quarter-finals: Rathgar 0 Three Rock Rovers 4 (M Darling 2, H Morris, K Mullins); Railway Union 2 (E MacArthur, M English) Monkstown 3 (A Sykes, G Cole, D Carson); Corinthian 4 (I Stewart 2, J Perdue, J Roberts) Kilkenny 1 (H McDonnell); Glenanne 7 (N Byrne, R Shaw, S Boucher, S Ronan, D Keogh, G Gibney, AN Other) Clontarf 2 (M Fulham, S Cassidy)
Leinster Division One
Saturday: YMCA 0 UCD 3 (A Meates, J Guilfoyle, A Ramsay)
Sunday: Kilkenny 8 (B Wallace 3, B McEnery 2, S Charles, A Atkinson, J Feely) Dublin North 1 (S Dempsey)
Irish Hockey Trophy, round one: Limerick 4 (Q Eacrett, C Shoebridge, J Hodkinson, J Maydell) Portrane 5 (I Khan 2, S Graham, P Conway, C Neville)
Munster Senior Cup, first round: UCC 2 (S Grace, A Power) Bandon 3 (R Smyth 2, D Jennings)