Glenanne player-coach Joe Brennan says the side are capturing some of the spirit of old as they produced yet another late series of goals put them in prime position to win the men’s EY Hockey League.
Three goals in the last four minutes against nearest rivals Three Rock Rovers, moved them seven points clear at the top of the table with seven games to go.
Incredibly, they have now earned 10 of their 29 point-tally this season with goals in the closing five minutes of games against Annadale, Banbridge, Pembroke and Rovers. It’s a stat that player-coach Joe Brennan says has become a psychological calling card.
“It’s down to fitness initially,” he told the Hook in a piece for the Irish Times. “But belief builds on belief and when you know you have it and other teams know all about it, they find it difficult to close out games. It was something we had years ago and it’s coming back and it is a bloody strong thing to have in the locker.”
The win means a first national title since 2010 is very much theirs to lose.
“The guys have worked so hard. They have been hearing from the old team about the glory days and I think they were sick of it and decided to do something about it. We had a nice early run and momentum has become a huge thing.”
Against Rovers, they started on the back foot with the Rathfarnham side pummeling Iain Walker’s goal in the first quarter but only had a Mitch Darling goal to show for their efforts.
Gary Shaw and Richard Couse swapped the lead before half-time; Luke Madeley levelled for Three Rock early in the second half and they looked more likely to grab a winner for much of the second half until things fell apart for them in the endgame with Shannon Boucher, Neil Byrne and Shane O’Donoghue scoring in quick succession.
“It was a brilliant game between the two best counter-attacking teams in the country, an amazing advert for the club game,” Brennan added. “Rovers are lethal at times, are so young and can be a truly brilliant team.
“I have no doubt this isn’t the last time we play Rovers this season and we could end up playing them four or five times in either the cups or the playoffs.”
He also paid tribute to goalkeeper Iain Walker who produced another top-drawer performance between the posts.
“In fairness, Walker kept us in it at times – he has been unbelievable for us [since moving from YM]. A few of the lads know him well from work but once we moved to St Andrew’s, playing on water-based and geographically, he was able to get here for training so he said he would give EYHL hockey a go for one year.”
On that note, Brennan anticipates the move to Andrew’s will run for at least a couple of seasons with the sports capital grant for Glenanne Park likely to take a while to come to fruition.
Lisnagarvey, meanwhile, will try and make some inroads into the 13-point gap to the Glens on Wednesday night when they face Annadale in Hillsborough. They currently have three league games and an Irish Senior Cup to catch up on. On Tuesday, Banbridge face Cookstown at Havelock Park.
Men’s EY Hockey League fixtures
Tuesday: Banbridge v Cookstown, 8pm, Havelock Park
Wednesday: Lisnagarvey v Annadale, 8pm, Comber Road