Unbeatable on the national stage, Leinster league side Corinthian – and Ian Stewart in particular – showed how its done as they eliminated Glenanne from the Leinster Senior Mills Cup in midweek 4-2.
It puts them through to the St Patrick’s Day final where they will play either Three Rock Rovers or Monkstown, advancing to the marquee day for the third time in the last four years.
The Glens were without Shane O’Donoghue – he was also out for the game against Cookstown last week – and so called on Shannon Boucher to take over short corner duties and he delivered the first goal of the game beating Ross Murray with a direct drag midway through the first half.
The reds bounced back with a well worked team goal finished off by Stewart with a reverse stick shot. Then, against the run of play, Corinthian took the lead with school boy Henry Ellis and Ross McWilliam linking up to make it 2-1.
Glennane went looking for an equaliser with Sam O’Connor and Richie Shaw creating good chances but the Corinthian defence, led by Ben Murphy, appeared up for the challenge as the first half ended 2-1.
As the second half started, Murray was again called on to make a number of good saves before the reds managed to score a third through a Jonny Bruton cross for Stewart to pick up his second.
O’Connor continued his fine performance and was unlucky not to get more for his work, but the Glens did get one back when Gary Shaw picked out Boucher on the far post mid way through the second half.
At this point, the game started to really bubble with a number of cards issued, and it was during a yellow card sin bin for Boucher that the reds scored their fourth and Stewart picking up a hat-trick.
Iain Walker was sacrificed with around 10 minutes to go but Glennane just couldn’t make the advantage count as the reds were happy to sit back and close out the game.
For the Glens, they will look to get back on the horse when they travel up to Annadale this weekend in the men’s EY Hockey League.
They do so with a small bit of extra pressure from Lisnagarvey who narrowed the gap at the top to eight points – with two games in hand – with a 2-0 midweek win over Dale.
Daniel Buser opened the scoring from the penalty spot early in the second half before Daniel Nelson made the points safe from Neal Glassey’s assist.
Garvey travel down to Cork on Saturday to face a C of I looking to improve markedly on their 10-0 defeat to the same opposition before Christmas. They come into the tie off the back of two good draws on the road with John Jermyn firing three in the last two games.
Perhaps the most crucial game is the meeting of Cookstown and Railway at the bottom. A win for the Ulster side would likely be the killer blow for the Park Avenue hosts (4.30pm) but a win would make for a huge dogfight in the run-in to decide who gets the playoff and who goes straight down.
Last time out, Stu Smyth was the match winner for Cookstown, scoring twice in the 4-2 win for the Tyrone men.
“I think we can look to a number of positives as well as a good few lessons from our match against Glenanne and take those into the Railway game,” said Smyth.
“The scoreline obviously was pretty one-sided, but we actually performed pretty well in a number of areas. We created a lot of chances but couldn’t take advantage. If we can change that and be strong around the back then the hope is that we can get all the points down in Dublin.
“That first quarter really did the harm – every time Glenanne got into our circle it seemed to end up in a goal. But we’ll take it on the chin and look to get going again against Railway.
“Railway are obviously past masters at surviving in this league and have a number of really talented guys in their ranks.
“They will be better than they were up in Cookstown, and so we will have to be as well if we are to come away with anything from the match.
“We’ve a month off after this match so we can really throw everything at it and hopefully, with a bit of luck, it will be good enough to win the points.”
Banbridge hope to beat the frost to close the gap on fifth placed Pembroke. Monkstown’s game with Three Rock Rovers is off due to the funeral of Michael Darling, father of Mitch, on Saturday morning.
In Leinster Division One, the three horse race at the top continues with YMCA hosting Avoca, UCD going to Weston and Rathgar facing Corinthian.
Men’s weekend fixtures
EY Hockey League
Wednesday: Lisnagarvey 2 (D Buser, D Nelson) Annadale 0
Saturday: Annadale v Glenanne, Strathearn School, 2.30pm; Banbridge v Pembroke Wanderers, Havelock Park, 2.45pm; Cork C of I v Lisnagarvey, Garryduff, 1pm; Railway Union v Cookstown, Railway Union HC, 2.40pm.
Irish Hockey Challenge – semi-finals: Ballynahinch v Cliftonville, St. Colmans H.S., 1pm; Catholic Institute v Mullingar, Rosbrien, 2pm.
Leinster Division One: Kilkenny v Clontarf, 2pm, Kilkenny College; Weston v UCD, 11.30am, Griffeen Valley Park; Dublin North v Dublin University, 12pm, NSC; Rathgar v Corinthian, 12.30pm, High School; YMCA v Avoca, 2pm, Wesley
Mills Cup semi-final: Corinthian 4 (I Stewart 3, R McWilliam) Glenanne 2 (S Boucher 2)
Munster Senior Cup – semi-finals: Ashton v Bandon, Ashton School, 12.15pm; Limerick v Cork Church of Ireland B, Villiers, 12pm.
Munster Division 1 (Sunday): UCC v Limerick , Mardyke, 12pm.