Rovers survive huge semi-final scare to land Leinster title

Men’s Leinster Indoor League final

Three Rock Rovers 14 (B Walker 6, J Hosking 5, D Shirley, H Morris, D Walsh) Railway Union 7 (B Daase 2, B Thompson 2, J McKeever, M Fulham, F Keaveney)

Three Rock Rovers survived an almighty semi-final scare to retain the Leinster men’s indoor league title and keep alive hopes of a fourth National Indoor Trophy in succession.

They trailed Monkstown 5-4 but nailed a last-second penalty corner move to Daragh Walsh to earn a shoot-out chance.

There, veteran goalkeeper Shane Davey came up trumps with a series of vital saves to put them through to a final date with Railway Union, 6-5 winners over YMCA in their semi.

Three Rock Rovers’ Tony Byrne Cup winning side.

It was the second successive year they survived by the skin of their teeth having been on the brink of elimination a year ago against Glenanne at the same stage. It ultimately paved the way for their fourth provincial title in the last five years.

In the final, the tie was wide open from the outset with both sides missing Irish internationals – Stephen O’Keeffe and Ross Canning – to illness. Jody Hosking flicked in a stunning reverse-stick finish and then profited from Mark English’s reverse pass for 2-0.

English had already saved off the line against his old club in a rousing opening but Railway got on the board when Fergal Keaveney picked out the late arriving Michael Fulham for a tip-in. Walsh finished off a Dylan Shirley cross for 3-1 after the first quarter.

Bruce Thompson and Bjorn Daase’s corner levelled it at 3-3 but Rovers quickly replied through Ben Walker – the first of his six goals – and Hosking’s stroke for 5-3.

Jeremy McKeever and Shirley traded goals and then Thompson and Hosking swapped scores for 7-5 at half-time in a goal-fest.

But Rovers took control in the second half as Railway’s shortened bench of three subs began to take its toll against a deeper Rovers line-up.

Harry Morris’s spin and flick put three goals between the sides for the first time. Eoin MacArthur had a goal disallowed for a corner never leaving the circle and Rovers scored within a few seconds through Walker.

Hosking made it 10-5; Daase cut that lead to 10-6 from a stroke but Walker went on to score four times in three minutes to well and truly make the game safe. Keaveney got one back on the hooter.

Both sides advance to next Sunday’s national semi-finals with Railway facing Munster champions Limerick and Rovers up against the winners from Ulster, Banbridge, who beat Queen’s and Cookstown on their return to indoor action.

Ulster champions Banbridge

Bann will play Three Rock in the National Indoor Trophy semi-final next Sunday at 10.30am in Galway with Railway facing Limerick at 9.30am. The bronze match is at 1.30pm and the final on at 3.30pm.

The finals will be live-streamed with commentary from the Voice of the EHL Nick Irvine.

Men’s Leinster Indoor League

Semi-finals: Three Rock Rovers 5 Monkstown 5, TRR win shoot-out; YMCA 5 Railway Union 6

Final: Three Rock Rovers 14 (B Walker 6, J Hosking 5, D Shirley, H Morris, D Walsh) Railway Union 7 (B Daase 2, B Thompson 2, J McKeever, M Fulham, F Keaveney)

Three Rock Rovers: S Davey, B Walker, H Morris, J Hosking, J McAllister, M English

Subs: E Geyer, J Walker, D Shirley, D Walsh, D Kane

Railway Union: E Brennan, A Darroch, F Keaveney, B Thompson, B Daase, E MacArthur

Subs: J McKeever, A McGregor, M Fulham

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