Harlequins summon amazing comeback to win Munster Senior Cup

Munster Senior Cup final
Cork Harlequins 4 (R Bailey 2, R Gash, B Roberts) Bandon 4 (I Sweetnam 2, C Sweetnam, R Sweetnam), Harlequins win shoot-out 3-2
Cork Harlequins summoned an incredible comeback from 3-0 down to win back the Munster Senior Cup for the first time in seven years, denying holders Bandon in a shoot-out.

Such an outcome looked a million miles away after 20 minutes when the Sweetnam-inspired west Cork side ran up three goals in quick succession.

Cork Harlequins celebrate. Pic: Munster Hockey

It put them in the frame for a second cup title of the season following their Peard Cup success over the same opponent in December.

Ivor Sweetnam started off the run nine minutes in when he got the perfect deflection to Clinton Sweetnam’s crash ball in from the right, his reverse touch going into the roof of the net.

Clinton then whipped in a devilish drag-flick for 2-0 before another Sweetnam, Rob this time, coolly finished off the back of Fionn O’Leary and Dave Jennings’ approach work.

For Harlequins, they needed something special from their talisman Julian Dale and while he could not add to his 36-goals for the season, he was instrumental in turning the tide.

He weaved in and out of a series of tackles to create the lifeline in the 21st minute before unleashing an outrageous back-door pass to Richie Gash who deftly finished.

Dale had another couple of pot shots denied by Iarlaith O’Neill but they were right back in it the tie at the break when a quickly taken free found Ross Bailey who dove to finish off.

The first comeback was complete five minutes into the second half when Dale, again, acted as creator, working with Ben Roberts who set the move in motion and, continuing his run to ultimately score.

Bandon’s Ali Smith gets his eyes up. Pic: Munster Hockey

Bandon managed to settle after a tetchy phase and they were back in front as the game entered its final quarter. It came on the break as player-coach Ali Smith burst forward and found Ivor Sweetnam whose touch deceived goalkeeper David Palmer for 4-3.

They had the chances to close out the tie from there with a host of penalty corner chances denied by Palmer with five of them yielding no reward.

It left them open to the last minute sucker-punch which arrived when John Whyte embarked on a mazy run and found Dale. His run took him to the endline and Ross Bailey was there to finish off his pass.

And they took that momentum into the shoot-out with Palmer holding up a series of chances, his last block to keep out Ali Smith proving the winning moment.

It leaves them now in prime position for a double with the league all but won and EYHL2 hockey already secure for next season.

Cork Harlequins: D Palmer, J O’Meara, J Hobbs, M Holland, B Hayes-Curtin, J Black, G Daunt, D Egner, H Brophy, J Dale, R Bailey
Subs: A Daunt Sheehan, B Roberts, A Dale, R Gash, J Whyte

Bandon: I O’Neill, C Sweetnam, M Jennings, C Wood, A Smith, C Kingston, E Nyhan, F O’Leary, R Smyth, D Jennings, D Smith
Subs: R Sweetnam, E Hamilton Foott, K Smith, A Scannell, I Sweetnam

Umpires: M Coombes, J Butler

Cork Harlequins celebrate their victory

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