Glens’ seven-point lead remains intact despite draw with C of I; Garvey ones to watch after another icy weekend

Men’s EY Hockey League – day 12 round-up
Glenanne dropped a couple of points but still ended the weekend with their seven-point lead intact at the top of men’s EY Hockey League with Three Rock held by Annadale while Monkstown – third at the start of the weekend – were swept aside by Lisnagarvey. The Co Down side look the best placed side to challenge for top spot despite 11 points to make up but have three games in hand.

The fixture pile-up looks set to continue, though, as both of Banbridge’s games at Havelock Park were cancelled while Pembroke and Cookstown also did not go ahead.

Glenanne 2 (G Shaw, S O’Donoghue) Cork C of I 2 (M Gallagher, J Jermyn)
Shane O’Donoghue’s late penalty corner earned Glenanne another late point as he fired home a rocket of a penalty corner for a draw that sees them end the weekend with their seven-point lead at the top intact.

It was a rip-roaring affair from start to finish with both sides committing to aggressive counter-attacks that saw the game swing from end-to-end. C of I had the first chance, Iain Walker scrambling back across his goal to keep the scoreboard. Both sides had corners they could not convert in the opening quarter.

A couple of minutes into the second quarter, the Glens were in front when Joe Brennan’s long ball picked out Shannon Boucher who arced his run and passed to Gary Shaw whose reverse found its way into the goal. C of I argued forlornly for a back-stick decision with Andy Gray shown green for his protests.

The lead lasted just 60 seconds, however, as Mark Gallagher slapped over Walker’s shoulder from the right baseline, a cracking finish for 1-1. C of I went close to taking the lead when O’Donoghue was serving a yellow card suspension with Brennan having to save off the line. The Dubliners did run up three more corners in the first half but found no way through, keeping the scoreboard level at half-time.

Cork started to notch corners of their own in the second half and from their fourth one, John Jermyn showed serious power to plant the ball into the bottom corner. He tried again soon after but Walker saved well as C of I kept coming.

When Walker was beaten, David Keogh covered superbly to take another effort off the line to keep the scoreline within range. They took full advantage of that reprieve when they won yet another penalty corner which O’Donoghue fired home.

It might have been even better for the Glens in the closing minutes with Billy Lynch brilliantly denying Boucher while Jermyn blocked an O’Donoghue reverse while Eddie O’Malley and Shaw could not gobble up the next chances.

Despite missing out on the full total, Jermyn reflected afterwards that it was a good point for the Cork side, nudging them a further point clear of Cookstown in the relegation playoff spot.

Three Rock Rovers 1 (P Blakeney) Annadale 1 (J Taylor)
Late drama galore from an otherwise drab affair in near freezing conditions at Grange Road saw Peter Blakeney give Rovers the lead with six minutes to go only for John Taylor to score the equaliser with two minutes left.

The first half saw Rovers holding most of the possession but having little penetration with Luke Madeley’s drag flicks saved by Johnny Moore the pick of the chances. Jody Hosking’s cross just evaded Richard Pautz while Dale had brief openings from Rovers mistakes but not much to write home about.

In the second half, the pattern continued. One opening slipped under Daragh Walsh’s stick at the back post from a Ben Walker pass before Blakeney finally troubled the scorers, getting a diving touch to a shin-high ball into the circle.

Dale swapped out their goalkeeper straightaway and got their leveller when a free was quickly moved and crashed in for a tap-in at the back post.

Monkstown 1 (G Sarratt) Lisnagarvey 5 (A Williamson 2, D Buser, M Nelson, N Glassey)
Lisnagarvey hammered Monkstown to move back above the Dubliners and into the top three and marking them as potentially the best-placed side to threaten Glenanne. They remain 11 points off first place but have three games in hand which could significantly reduce the gap.

They got off to a dream start when Daniel Buser netted in the fourth minute from their first attack. Andy Williamson turned in Peter McKibbin’s cross for 2-0 in the eighth minute and soon after it was three with Matthew Nelson burying the chance. Williamson got another before half-time and game over at the break.

Guy Sarratt pulled a goal back from a corner before Neal Glassey got the goal of the game with 12 minutes to go, a six-man move as the snow began to tumble down.

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