Glens reignite playoff challenge; Cookstown leapfrog C of I in relegation battle

Men’s EY Hockey League – day 14 round-up
Cookstown 4 (R Millar 2, S Todd, J Ames) Cork C of I 0

Cookstown moved out of the relegation zone for the first time since October as they continued their fine run of recent form to plunge Cork C of I for the first time in the campaign.

They survived an early penalty stroke which Ian Hughes conceded before standing up tall to save. Simon Todd opened the scoring in the second quarter off the back of Greg Allen’s approach work and Ryan Millar extended the lead out to 2-0 when he deflected home a corner on the stroke of half time.

C of I had a glut of pressure early in the second half but John Jermyn found Hughes in excellent form between the posts. Cookstown then killed off the game in the closing minutes with Jon Ames making it 3-0 following a fine individual run and backhand finish with six minutes to go. Millar added his second for the fourth.

Glenanne 2 (S Boucher, G Shaw) Three Rock Rovers 0

Glenanne reignited their push for an EYHL Champions Trophy place with a 2-0 win over Three Rock Rovers in Tallaght. They were grateful to their goalkeeper Lukasz Domachowski who had a superb game, particularly in the first quarter when he denied Ross Canning from point-blank range as Rovers made the early inroads.

It remained scoreless to the half-time break as a well marshalled Glens’ defence made it hard for Rovers to break down. The Tallaght side duly pushed on in the second half and, following good work from Neil Byrne and Stu Ronan to win a corner, Shannon Boucher dispatched for a 1-0 lead.

Chasing the game, Rovers pushed hard but David Keogh and Mick McGuinness defended well to limit the danger. A slip from Sam O’Connor presented Jody Hosking with a big chance but Domachowski stopped his slap shot low to his right brilliantly. On the break, Glenanne doubled their lead when Boucher freed Gary Shaw and his low drive rattled the backboard and confirmed the win.

Annadale 2 (P McKibbin, J Cox) Banbridge 5 (E Magee 3, B McCandless, J McKee)

A breathtaking last quarter burst of three goals saw Banbridge eventually shake off the attentions of Annadale at Lough Moss as Eugene Magee’s hat trick strengthened Bann’s hold on a playoff place.

Peter McKibbin gave Dale an early lead with a rasping shot against the run of play in the eighth minute but Magee’s first corner shot tied things up at the end of the first quarter.

The Irish international then punished a defensive error in the second quarter for 2-1 in the 26th minute. Any notion that they would have an easy ride, though, were dispelled when James Cox whizzed home a penalty corner past Peter Bingham in the third quarter to tie things up at 2-2 and set up intriguing final 15 minutes.

But Bann quickly raced away. Josh Moffett won a corner from which Magee completed his hat trick. With Peter Brown prompting the attacks, Bruce McCandless and McKee added two further goals in quick succession to stretch the advantage as Dale struggled in the late phases in the absence of Matthew Allister, Connor Roberts and Michael Robson.

Luke Chadwick and Mick McGuinness battle for the ball. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Luke Chadwick and Mick McGuinness battle for the ball. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Lisnagarvey 3 (M Watt 2, A Williamson) Pembroke 2 (H Spain, E Foy)

Lisnagarvey moved within a win of claiming the European spot and the regular season title as they extended their streak to 12 successive victories.

The returning Mikey Watt played a key role, his two goals in the minutes before half time proving crucial in the final reckoning. After a largely chanceless first quarter, the second period was much livelier. Pembroke fired the first warning shot before Garvey produced some slick moves forward.

Jonny Bell and Paul Gleghorne combined to win a corner which was initially saved by Mark Ingram but fell to Watt who slapped in from close range. Straight from the restart, Garvey won back the ball and, via a quick interchange between Paul Ritchie and Richard Arneill, the ball got to the baseline by Andy Williamson who picked out Watt for number two.

The hosts had to soak up plenty of Pembroke pressure in the third quarter with John Tormey keeping his sheet clean from a double chance. His side moved further ahead when a huge Gleghorne overhead found its way to Watt. He shot across Ingram and the chance looked to be heading in before Williamson tipped in.

Pembroke fought back in the closing quarter with Harry Spain’s drag-flick giving them a lifeline. Another effort from Keith O’Hare was kept out by Tormey before Ronan Flannery, moments after returning from a green card suspension, raced down the right and located Eric Foy who popped home. Garvey, though, were able to control the closing minutes to ensure there was no further drama.

Monkstown 1 (A Ward) Railway Union 0

Andrew Ward’s first quarter goal was all that stood between Monkstown and Railway Union in a close-run battle that all but secures the sky blues place in the EY Champions Trophy places while Railway drop to sixth place.

After some initial Railway attacks, Town hit the front when Jonny Bruton beat several defenders before finding Ward who finished off for 1-0. In reply, Railway had a couple of corner chances with Kenny Carroll having an effort ruled out for hitting the ball too high as they sought an equaliser.

Into the second quarter, David Fitzgerald saved from Mark English while Stephen O’Keeffe needed to be alert to deny Bruton’s high reverse as both sides created chances.

English continued to provide menace in the third quarter while Bruton led the Monkstown line. From another pair of Railway corners, Stephen Cole was required to take one off the line to maintain the narrow advantage. They continued to push on in the final quarter but their final pass let them down while Ward and Bruton’s pace was always a threat at the far end but to no further scores.

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