Town run up six of the best; Chiefs undo Avoca while Reds see off YMCA

Men’s Leinster Division One
Three Rock Rovers 2 (Peter Blakeney, Jody Hosking) Monkstown 6 (Gareth Watkins, Stephen Cole, Lee Cole, Richard Sykes, Andy Ewington, Davy Carson)

Six goals, six different scorers and one magnificent performance from Monkstown sent an ominous message out to the rest of the division as they comprehensively out-played Three Rock at Grange Road.

It took just a couple of minutes for Gareth Watkins to put Town ahead, getting on the end of a Lee Cole cross and they went on to lead 4-0 at the break. It owed a lot to the switching of their press, initially sitting deep before going full-court and forcing a series of mistakes.

One loose clearance found its way to right-back Andy Ewington who returned the ball with interest to Stephen Cole mid-circle who dodged left and roofed on his backhand. A similar method located Lee Cole further out and he went the low road to the bottom corner for number three.

Despite a slightly staccato push out and stop, Richard Sykes adjusted perfectly to pick out the top corner from Monkstown’s first corner while it could have been more had French Under-21 international Edouard Delobelle not thrashed a first time effort just inches wide.

Rovers did have some up-tempo periods on the attack but needed to convert their corners but ended up with a return of zero from six while Town netted again from the set piece early in the second half via Ewington.

Peter Blakeney got one back from the penalty spot. It was tough on David Fitzgerald as he produced a brilliant stop to deny Alan White but the forward’s diving rebound hit a foot on the line. Davy Carson’s tidy touch made it 6-1 almost instantly before Jody Hosking netted a brilliant, though ultimately unimportant, goal for Rovers from a superb Ali Haughton 70-metre run and cross.

In tandem with Friday night’s result for Pembroke, it sees Monkstown move three points clear at the top of the division, breaking the three-team deadlock in the division for the first time.

YMCA 1 (Jaco Fourie) Corinthian 2 (Karl Smith, Ian Stewart)
Corinthian struck twice in the final quarter to see Corinthian end their three-game losing streak and reignite their bid for a top half finish, denting YMCA’s IHL bid in the process at Milltown.

YM started much the stronger as Jaco Fourie put them in front from the penalty spot as a penalty corner flick his Andrew Sutton’s shoulder on the line.

Rathgar's Mark Collins starts to celebrate making it 2-0 against Avoca Pic: Adrian Boehm

Rathgar’s Mark Collins starts to celebrate making it 2-0 against Avoca Pic: Adrian Boehm

Centre-back Ben Murphy departed early to a dead-leg forcing the reds into a defensive reshuffle with the returning Neil Pelow coming back in to line out with Dan Poff and they did well in defence.

It remained 1-0 until the break with Iain Walker pulling off a fine save from Ian Stewart and David Howard while Fourie and Luke Chadwick were prominent in midfield for the Y, forcing Ross Murray into a couple of important saves.

After the break, Karl Smith was to play a key role in getting Corinthian rolling. He got a great deflection to beat Walker with 15 minutes to go. Thereafter, YM did have chances to go back in front as Jamie Tobin flashed one over the bar and drew some big performances from Conor Motyer and Sutton.

Gordon Elliott’s return was also welcome and the reds got their winner with less than five minutes to go when Max Richard got on the ball and passed to Ian Stewart. He still had plenty to do but slipped past the oncoming Walker for the key goal.

Speaking after the game Corinthian coach Trevor Dagg said: “YM played great hockey and I’m sure are disappointed with the result but we dug deep and I’m proud of the lads. They’ve put in a hard shift since pre season and this sets up an exciting game against the Glens next Saturday. We’ll be underdogs again but we’ll try our best and we know how difficult that game is going to be.”

Rathgar 4 (Mark Collins, Ross Gribben, Stuart Malcolm, Gary Sharman) Avoca 2 (Ziggy Agnew, Oisin O’Halloran)
Rathgar produced a vital win over Avoca to get off the mark for the season, handing them their second ever top tier result and first for Alun Evans as coach.

After a cagey opening, the Chiefs started to force a couple of corners and Stu Malcolm dragged in one of those for the lead. Avoca, in reply, played a series of long balls that led to some great opportunities but found Dan Gribben in good form while John Cummins struck wide from close range and Maxi Tixe – a new arrival from Uruguay – struck the base of the post.

But they were stung on the counter as David Meade raced clear down the right and picked out Mark Collins for the hosts second goal before the break.

It garnered a more aggressive response from Avoca who stepped an extra man into midfield and applied plenty of pressure with Richard Couse to the fore. This led to corners and Ziggy Agnew got on the end of one of them to pull one back.

Within ten seconds, however, Rathgar were 3-1 up with Gary Sharman hitting a beauty into the top of the net. Another instant response saw Oisin O’Halloran peg the score back to 3-2 with a reverse-stick effort.

But the Chiefs again summoned an excellent response with Ross Gribben getting his first goal for the club in the 56th minute.

Dan Gribben ensured there were not too many nervy moments down the final stretch, especially when Andrew Ramsay saw yellow for a foul on the impressive Jonny Orr, allowing them more space and offering a couple of chances to make the scoreline a bit bigger.

Men's Leinster Senior Div 1