Kilkenny and Dublin North both ended their lengthy wait for a men’s Leinster Division One point as they shared a wildly entertaining 4-4 draw.
The hosts went 1-0 up when Howard McDonnell’s shovelled drag found its way home to start of a fast-paced, end to end game. DN equalised through a good run into the left of the D by Shane Dempsey who drew the keeper and put the ball back to the penalty spot for an onrushing Liam Metcalfe to slap home.
Declan Coffey restored the Kilkenny lead following a good run and pass offered the chance for a nice reverse-stick finish. Dempsey, though, levelled the game at the half-time break with the first of his hat trick, flicking high into the top corner.
Once again, Kilkenny took the initiative to build a lead with James Feely and a second from McDonnell pushing them out to 4-2 early in the second half.
But North produced an awesome finish to grab a point with two goals in the last six minutes. Dempsey got the first of those with another high corner drag-flick for 4-3.
Jim Dunne was yellow carded but the NSC club thought they had their equaliser when they were perfectly set to tap in but play was brought back to give them a corner for an earlier foot instead.
No matter, Dempsey rocketed the resulting short corner off the bar only for him to end up finishing the rebound on the reverse. Kilkenny had a corner on the hooter but North survived and they nicked what could be an important point.
Pre-match, one of the scheduled umpire Colm Kavanagh sustained a head injury earlier in the day while playing for the Dublin North second string, ruling him out of blowing the whistle.
He was taken to hospital but the good news is that he got seen to promptly and was discharged on Saturday evening.
Elsewhere, Corinthian started off their 2019 phase with a 4-1 win over Clontarf but they did have to fight back from a half-time deficit. Mark Duggan scored a classy individual finish on the break to give the Bulls a half-time lead.
But a pair of second half David Howard strokes helped turned the tide. He equalised before Ian Stewart scored the second to go ahead 2-1.
Howard’s second stroke made the game safe and Josh Greaney completed the victory.
Injury-hit Railway moved top of the table with a 3-1 win over equally under-strength Avoca who were without Simon Lowry, Ivan Cooke, Eoghan Mellott and Andrew Meagher.
Railway went in front when Adam O’Callaghan’s corner strike hit a body on the line with Fergal Keaveney flicking in the stroke after five minutes.
Daithi Medcalf – son of long-time Irish Independent and RTE hockey journalist David – got his first for the first team for 2-0 when Railway turned over Avoca, setting up the chance to shoot home from top D.
Ruairi Nolan got one back with a good finish off the back of a turnover in the Railway half for 2-1 at half-time. The Sandymount side, though, should have been out of sight in the second half but for some superb saves from Stefan Gallagher.
Rob Abbott did make it 3-1 with 15 minutes to go when he deflected home a corner.
On Sunday, UCD survived a massive scare to keep their unbeaten record in tact, recovering from 3-1 down against Portrane to win 4-3 at Belfield.
Peter Lynch put UCD in front following good work down the right wing and along the baseline but the Fingal side responded in kind with Brian McMahon finishing off a short corner after a Chris Neville drag flick.
Neville was next on the score sheet, again from a short corner, deflecting an Imran Khan goal bound effort on his reverse.
UCD were expected to come out of the traps quickly in the second half, but it was Portrane again who took advantage. This time, it was Khan with the goal.
The students woke up after this and the dynamic of the game changed, particularly when Mukhtar Ahmed was yellow carded with 20 minutes remaining.
While he was off the pitch UCD managed to score twice and equalise and, with three minutes remaining, they won a short corner, scoring to win the game.
Portrane has chances to equalize in the last few moments of the game, but it wasn’t their day despite fine performances from Riley Shoebridge and McMahon while Colin Neville worked tirelessly and Ronan McGeehan was impressive in goal.
Men’s Leinster Division 1
Saturday: Avoca 1 (R Nolan) Railway Union 3 (F Keaveney, D Medcalf, R Abbott); Corinthian 4 (D Howard 2, I Stewart, J Greaney) Clontarf 1 (M Duggan); Kilkenny 4 (H McDonnell 2, D Coffey, J Feely) Dublin North 4 (S Dempsey 3, L Metcalfe)
Sunday: UCD 4 (E Ramsay 2, P Lynch, A Keane) Portrane 3 (B McMahon, Chris Neville, I Khan)