YM survive, C of I fight on as Cookstown relegated

Men’s EY Hockey League – day 18 round-up
Cookstown 1 (S McCabe) Banbridge 5 (J McKee 2, J Moffett, Z McClelland, E Magee)

At the start of play, Cookstown harboured hopes of avoiding a return to the Ulster Premier League while there was little on the line for Banbridge who were a nailed on certainty to play Three Rock Rovers in the EY Champions Trophy semi-finals.

Bruce McCandless picked out Zach McClelland for a neatly worked first goal for Bann. Cookstown fought back when Jack Haycock launched a long overhead which Scott McCabe got to between the last defender and goalkeeper and his first time saw him escape to the left to finish on his backhand.

It remained 1-1 at half-time but three third quarter goals from Bann pretty much killed off Cookstown’s hopes of escaping relegation. Jonny McKee got a couple from penalty corners, one a deflection move, the other a rebound after Eugene Magee hit the bar.

There was also time for Magee to score one and Josh Moffett rounded out a great pitch-length move from McKee’s long pass to spin out a 5-1 success.

YMCA 2 (G Glutz, C Hynes) Pembroke Wanderers 0
YMCA went into the final tie of the season with fate in their own hands, knowing a win over fifth placed Pembroke would see them stay clear of relegation from their first season in the EY Hockey League.

In a tense opening quarter, the sides exchanged corners to no avail. YM hit the front in the 27th minute from the penalty spot via yet another Grant Glutz goal, beating Simon Thornton for a precious advantage. Sam Hyland had initially lined up to take the stroke, coming off the bench to do so but was – as acting captain for the day in Ben Campbell’s absence – shown a yellow card for YM having 12 players on the pitch for an issue over the protocol of him stepping onto the pitch.

Despite lengthy protestations, Glutz stepped in to take the stroke and held his nerve to flick it home. It stayed that way all the way through to the final minute, keeping plenty of tension in place around Wesley College. Ben Chadwick had to make an incredible goal line save for the Y before Pembroke fell apart at the end.

Harry Spain saw yellow with three minutes to go before Ross Henderson was felled while one-on-one with Thornton. The goalkeeper was shown yellow to reduce Pembroke to nine and YM took full advantage when Cillian Hynes scored from play for 2-0, sparking joyous celebrations.

Cork C of I 2 (D Lynch, J Bruton) Three Rock Rovers 2 (K Mullins, C Empey)
Cork C of I’s remarkable escape from the bottom rung of the regular season was complete as they made it seven points from their last 12, rising from being six points adrift at the bottom a month ago.

They are not quite out of the woods, though, as they still face a relegation playoff game in a week’s time in their bid to escape the drop and keep a Munster side in the top tier.

Rovers, for their part, were very much protecting their battle-weary squad ahead of the Champions Trophy, resting nine of the squad that played in the Euro Hockey League last week.

David Lynch gave C of I a lead in the first quarter which they held until the 51st minute when Kevin Mullins tied things up. Jonny Bruton scored in the closing quarter when he leapt onto a rebound off Shane O’Brien’s pads to make it 2-1.

John Jermyn went close to a third when he hit the bar and O’Brien parried away Simon Wolfe’s shot before Conor Empey equalised from a corner drag-flick for 2-2.

Glenanne 2 (B Venter 2) Monkstown 2 (G Sarratt, S Hohn)
Glenanne and Monkstown shared the spoils to see the former finish in fourth place and on course for a Champions Trophy semi-final against Glenanne while Monkstown end the campaign in sixth.

Monkstown took the lead via a Guy Sarratt penalty corner but a pair of Brad Venter goals in the second half swapped the lead with 14 minutes to go. Sam Hohn, though, netted with five minutes left in the tie as Sam O’Connor and Richard Couse both sat out yellow cards in the closing stages.

Annadale 1 (P Jack) Lisnagarvey 7 (T Chambers 3, O Kidd, H Morris, D Nelson, M Nelson)
Lisnagarvey completed their EY Hockey League victory march with a 7-1 win over Annadale at Strathearn, making it six wins in a row, giving them a six-point margin of victory in the end.

Indeed, they have not lost since October after a tricky start to the season saw them lose two of their first four games only to develop and grow in brilliant style. Daniel Nelson and Oliver Kidd had them 2-0 up inside 20 minutes before Patrick Jack got Annadale’s sole response.

Troy Chambers got his first of the day just before half-time and Harry Morris made it 4-1 by the end of the third quarter. Two more Chambers goals arrived in the final quarter with Matthew Nelson chipping in for a comprehensive win.

For Annadale, they did their hard work in the first half of the campaign, winning just three points from their last 30 available.

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