Harlequins, C of I, Inst and Cookstown off to winning starts

Cork’s Harlequins and C of I and Ulster duo Instonians and Cookstown all won by narrow margins to get off to strong starts in men’s EY Hockey League Division Two.

In Pool B, Harlequins beat Clontarf 3-2 in what was both sides’ maiden EYHL2 game with the hosts backing up their excellent Irish Senior Cup success against Corinthian.

Cork Harlequins’ captain Jack O’Meara gets away from John MUllins. Pic: Katesampson_photography

Brian Hayes-Curtin pounced on a penalty corner rebound for a 16th minute lead for the hosts; John Mullins equalised for the Bulls from a corner at the back post but John Whyte restored the Quins’ lead just before half-time from play, slotting into the bottom corner.

At this stage, Tarf began to get plenty of pressure in the Quins’ 23 which led to a few corners while David Palmer saved a stroke to keep them ahead.

They were stung, though, on the counter as the hosts worked the ball up the line and led to a corner which Julian Dale who flicked into the top of the net.

Luke Hayden made it tense with a late Clontarf riposte but the hosts held on.

At Steelweld Park in the same group, Stuart Smyth was the hero for Cookstown, scoring a hat trick of goals from the penalty corner set piece to help them to a 6-2 win.

Smyth started the scoring in the fourth minute before two goals – by John Finlay and David Rae – gave Kilkeel a 2-1 lead. Cookstown lifted it and scored four unanswered goals, Smyth netting twice in four minutes to hand them back the lead, before Keith Black and Ryan Millar ended Kilkeel’s defiance.

In Pool A, Cork C of I came back from behind to beat Railway Union at Garryduff for a 2-1 success. Michael Fulham got the opener after a succession of corners. The C of I equalised came in the second half as a result of hard pressing, forcing a turnover and a corner which Rob Sweetnam flicked down the middle for 1-1.

And the winner came with five minutes to go from a switch move to Kevin O’Dea to get the Garryduff men off to a great start.

Instonians matched their efforts with a 2-1 win of their own against Avoca. Former international Mikie Watt opened the scoring in the first quarter and Ben Palmer added the next in the third for a 2-0 lead for the Ulster men before Richard Couse created a lively finish with 10 minutes to go.

In Leinster, meanwhile, Portrane continued their good start to the season with a 3-1 success against Dublin University while a corner goal each saw Weston draw 1-1 against Bray, Phil Baron and Daniel Plunkett exchanging goals.

Men’s EYHL Division 2 

Pool A: Avoca 1 (R Couse) Instonians 2 (M Watt, B Palmer); Cork C of I 2 (R Sweetnam, K O’Dea) Railway Union 1 (M Fulham)

Pool B: Cookstown 6 (S Smyth 3, J Haycock, R Millar, K Black) Kilkeel 2 (J Finlay, D Rae); Cork Harlequins 3 (B Hayes Curtin, J Whyte, J Bale) Clontarf 2 (J Mullins, L Hayden)

Leinster Division 1: Dublin University 1 (H Kelly) Portrane 3 (I Khan, M Ahmed, S Graham); Weston 1 (P Baron) Bray 1 (D Plunkett)

Munster Charity Cup – Round 1: UCC 0 Bandon 2 (F O’Leary 2)

Neville Cup – Round 2: Three Rock Rovers 6 (E Jennings 3, D Shirley 2, A Empey) Monkstown 1 (B Hickmott)

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