The opening day of Pool A and B of the newly introduced EY Hockey League Division 2 produced two wildly contrasting ties with the former characterised by two close-run battles while Pool B saw big scorelines.
Game of the day came at the Bangor Aurora as the home side won a 3-2 classic thanks to Rhys Cunningham’s late goal against Bandon. The two clubs have developed a healthy rivalry in recent times, the Ulster side winning 5-4 in the playoffs last year while the west Cork team won their Irish Hockey Trophy meeting.
Bandon led 2-0 in the lashing rain as Fionn O’Leary and David Jennings hit the net in the first 19 minutes. Matthew Willis got one back two minutes later before Chris Barnes – following a summer move from Instonians – added another to his incredible career tally of goals for 2-2 at half-time. Cunningham scored the only goal of the second half to seal the win.
They lead the way after Railway Union – and Stephen O’Keeffe in particular – held UCD to a 0-0 draw at Park Avenue.
In Pool B, Instonians and Corinthian stamped their authority on the group with 8-0 and 6-2 wins respectively over UCC and Kilkeel. Olympian Mikey Watt set Inst on their path with a touch to Ben Palmer’s low flick and Watt’s reverse made it 2-0.
Stephen Kelso had the third by half-time before a William Robinson stroke and further goals from Kelso, Palmer, Ben Rose and William Carey stretched out a big win.
Corinthian won their road trip at Kilkeel with a comprehensive performance. Andrew Sutton deflected a corner into the net for 1-0 and Ian Stewart’s strike from the top made it two. Jack Perdue and a second Stewart goal made it 4-0 at half-time while Perdue’s second and a Jonathan Roberts goal had them six clear.
Kilkeel rallied via a Gareth Russell stroke and an Andrew Niblock goal from Neil Stevenson’s assist. The second round of EYHL2 fixtures will be played on November 3.
EYHL Division 2, Pool A: Bangor 3 (M Willis, C Barnes, R Cunningham) Bandon 2 (F O’Leary, D Jennings); Railway Union 0 UCD 0
Pool B: Instonians 8 (M Watt 2, S Kelso 2, W Robinson, B Palmer, B Rose, W Carey) UCC 0; Kilkeel 2 (A Niblock, G Russell) Corinthian 6 (I Stewart 2, J Perdue 2, A Sutton, J Roberts)