Men’s Irish Hockey Trophy final
Bandon 2 (C Sweetnam, R Smyth) Portrane 2 (I Khan 2), Bandon win shoot-out 3-1
Bandon won the men’s Irish Hockey Trophy at the fourth attempt, eventually beating Portrane in a shoot-out at Belfield in the final after defeats at the last hurdle in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
For the likes of Ali Smith, David Smith, Chris Wood, the Jennings twins Matthew and David – on their birthday – Mark Deane and Ivor Sweetnam, it meant this title finally arrived in west Cork with club member Ivy Dennis, the Hockey Ireland President, the one to hand it over.
It adds to their excellent season, winning the Munster Senior League while they have a Munster Senior Cup final to come, too.
Portrane got off to an amazing start with former Pakistan and Azerbaijan international Imran Khan showing some outrageous touches of skill. The first came an innocuous enough position, taking on a sideline ball way out on the left before breaking into the circle on the right.
His first shot was charged down but he hoovered the ball up again and flicked in from close range. Two minutes later, Khan had a long corner which he dummied the first-up defender before unleashing a rocket into the top corner – a sensational strike.
Bandon, though, were producing some slick stuff of their own as the rain arrived and should have had one back when Fionn O’Leary laid off for Ali Smith. He somehow slapped wide with the goal beckoning. Smith was keen to make amends and was – other than Khan – the most influential first half figure with a performance of real purpose and determination.
Clinton Sweetnam halved the gap in the 20th minute from the game’s first corner, dragging in past Daniel Graham’s right boot. And the equaliser came soon after, the heaviest of the rain leading to a couple of slips. Ross Smyth stayed upright and produced a reverse of real venom which, coupled with a deflection, left Graham chanceless.
The second half had no further goals but a massive amount of incident, particularly in the closing 10 minutes. Bandon had a series of four corners, the closest of which saw Khan clear off the line from a Chris Wood push.
Conor Robinson produced two immaculate saves, first from Ossian Elmiger’s deft touch and then from Khan’s high, bouncing bash at goal. Fionn O’Leary’s cross was inches from being turned in by Matthew Jennings but for a Brian McMahon intervention.
The best chance to win it fell to Sean Graham on the left post as Mukhtar Ahmad forced the ball across but he scuffed the chance wide. Another Khan effort with 30 seconds to go blazed over and so a shoot-out finally ensued.
Bandon: C Robinson, C Sweetnam, M Jennings, C Wood, R Smyth, I Sweetnam, D Jennings, D Smith, M Deane, A Beamish, E Nyhan
Subs: A Smith, F O’Leary, C Kingston, M Kingston, L Keyes, A Clarke, R Sweetnam
Portrane: D Graham, Ch Neville, Co Neville, S Graham, B McMahon, O Elmiger, M Ahmad, P Conway, I Khan, R McKeon, R Shoebridge
Subs: N Kidd, S Neville, S Healy, S Stone, R Govan, A Carroll, R McGeehan
Umpires: P Agnew, A Campbell