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Corry hails total squad effort as Garvey land men’s EYHL crown

Men’s EY Hockey League – day 18 round-up
Banbridge 4 (J McKee, J Moffett, Ph Brown, D Finlay) Lisnagarvey 4 (O Kidd, B Nelson, A Williamson, J Lorimer)
Lisnagarvey survived a real final day scare to land the men’s EY Hockey League title following a heart-stopping final day of the season.

The Comber Road men needed just a draw to secure the title ahead of Three Rock Rovers and they looked to be cruising with 15 minutes to go as they led 4-3 against Banbridge while the Dubliners trailed against Monkstown.

But three wild minutes made for a tense close to an epic campaign as Rovers turned things around with Ben Johnson and Harry MacMahon both scoring to land a 3-2 success at Rathdown in the dying seconds.

Simultaneously, Banbridge levelled through Jonny McKee from the penalty spot to make it 4-4 while Garvey needing to hold on for the last eight minutes.

There were Bann chances but their Ulster rivals hung tough to allow James Corry to lift the regular season title for the third time in this full-season format.

For skipper James Corry, he said the only word they got of what was happening elsewhere came in the closing 10 minutes.

“We heard Three Rock had won 3-2 and we had just gone 4-4 with Jonny McKee scoring that stroke. It was basically just to hold out and hope for the best but I think we managed it well; there wasn’t that many chances for Banbridge. Obviously, there were a wee bit of nerves! It was always going to be tough and Bann would never make life easy for us!

“You could nearly tell by the atmosphere of the crowd Three Rock had won because the Garvey fans were very quiet.”

It was an afternoon of roller-coasting emotions as Garvey led 1-0 and 2-1 with Ben Nelson and James Lorimer scoring, Josh Moffett getting the credit for the Bann goal which went in via a defensive foot. 

Philip Brown levelled at 2-2 from a corner and they put the cat among the pigeons when David Finlay put the Havelock hosts in front. Vitally for Garvey, Andy Williamson equalised and, with 20 minutes left, Ollie Kidd gave an extra buffer before the late nerves began to set in once again.

McKee’s stroke had hearts fluttering but Errol Lutton’s side took the spoils, taking the league on goal difference and a guaranteed European spot.

Looking back on the season as a whole, Corry cited their 2-2 draw with Corinthian as the result which lit the fire in the team after a rollercoaster mid-season run which saw the lead change hands in the league for six successive rounds. 

After that, Garvey were imperious, crucially beating Three Rock and running up five successive wins, scoring 23 goals in the process.

“That result against Corinthians where we were 2-0 up with two minutes to go, we always said we hope don’t lose the title on that one. It gave us the kick up the backside that we needed. Any big game we have had in the past few weeks, we seem to have dealt with them pretty well. 

“I don’t know what it was; every team will have those off days but we played well that day and just got caught those last few minutes. We bounced back superbly and credit to the boys.

“The depth in the squad; we have had a lot of players out with injury and Covid and have used about 22 boys. When people aren’t stepping up, others have stepped up to the task. We were missing James Lorimer and Andy Williamson for the Three Rock games, our two flickers, but Ollie Kidd and Andy Edgar stood up and got one each. The younger boys have that bit more experience and can deal with the pressure.”

 

Monkstown 2 (J Duncan, J Henry) Three Rock Rovers 3 (B Johnson 2, H MacMahon)

Three Rock Rovers dug out another last-ditch comeback to ensure the men’s EY Hockey League season drama went down to the final minutes as they snatched a 3-2 win over Monkstown having trailed going into the last 10 minutes.

The first half was a scoreless affair but high on quality with both sides counter-attacking at pace and winning a couple of corners; goalkeepers David Fitzgerald and Conor Quinn were the key men, making a number of good blocks.

The second half burst to life with three goals in as many minutes seeing Town edge into a 2-1 lead. Lee Cole made a brilliant tackle on the edge of his own D and ripped a pass up to Jazze Henry whose first time touch set Jeremy Duncan through on the gallop. He was shadowed wide but still clipped a perfect shot into the top corner.

Rovers were level with an exquisitely executed move between Matteo Romoli, Evan Jennings and Ben Johnson who burst through the middle and slid home a shot on his backhand. 

The sky blues returned to the lead within seconds with David Nolan bursting through the middle; his shot was blocked by Quinn but Henry swooped to slap in to make it 2-1 in the 39th minute.

It remained that way until nine minutes to go as Rovers had one disallowed for a foot guiding the ball into the roof of the net. They got level when a right-wing surge broke the way of Johnson who roofed a reverse from the top of the D, another spectacular goal.

Rovers took off their goalkeeper to chase an equaliser but were almost undone when Rex Dunlop’s foul conceded a yellow card and a penalty corner. The combination of Romoli and goal-line specialist Harry MacMahon cleared from Lee Cole and Geoff Cole strikes on goal, the latter at waist-height.

In the next play, Rovers picked the ball off the Monkstown defence with Romoli finding Ryan Spencer who flicked to the back post where MacMahon was waiting to score his first of the season.

 

Pembroke Wanderers 6 (E Albers 2, J Dale 2, E Foy, A Sothern) UCD 2 (J Filgas, E Ramsay)

Pembroke got the result they needed to stay alive in the men’s EY Hockey League and, after a nervous 45-minute wait, had their place confirmed in the top tier for 2022/23.

They did, however, fall behind just 30 seconds into this contest against already relegated UCD with Peter Lynch feeding the ball into Josh Filgas who pushed for a deflection but the ball made it all the way to the backboard unimpeded.

Less than two minutes were on the clock when Pembroke equalised as Julian Dale’s cross was picked up by Ewout Albers who snuck in a near post shot. It was his first goal for the club in the EYHL and he added another 10 minutes later with a cracking reverse from the top left of the D.

 

Ewout Albers scores Pembroke’s first goal. Pic_ Adrian Boehm

A sprawling Eric Foy cracked in another from mid-circle and it was 4-1 soon after when Nick Burns picked out Alan Sothern with acres of space to run into. The ace marksman thrashed this one into the top corner. 

UCD replied with Ewan Ramsay deflecting a corner move into the top corner to cut the gap back to 4-2 at half-time. The second half was more circumspect with the third quarter scoreless before Dale finished the campaign with a flourish. He fired in a brilliant shot for 5-2 with 11 minutes to go. 

He dragged in another to complete the part of the equation they could control, leaving just a nervous wait to see how YMCA would do against Corinthian.

 

Corinthian 1 (M Neill) YMCA 2 (A Walker, R Henderson)

YMCA copper-fastened their place in the EYHL quarter-final with the result seeing the reds drop down to the second tier in ninth place, falling below Pembroke.

The first half was tense and nervy with chances at a premium with the pick of the openings falling to Ethan McInerney but his reverse was deflected over the bar.

The Y went in front in the second half to put Corinthian in jeopardy, knowing Pembroke were well in the clear at Serpentine Avenue, with Adam Walker propelling a corner shot into the top corner.

YMCA found out mid-match their place in the top six was confirmed but they did not take the foot off the gas as they doubled their lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Harry McCarthy embarked on a long run before setting up Ross Henderson to finish off. 

With everything on the line, Corinthian piled forward and ran up a number of corners and got one back when Max Neill scored despite a mistrapped setup at the top. They earned another series of corners chasing the draw they needed but Paebo Lembethe scrambled one off the line while Jakim Bernsden brilliantly saved another to break the Corinthian hearts.

 

 

Glenanne 2 (S Boucher, A Clayton) Annadale 0

First half goals from Shannon Boucher and Adam Clayton gave Glenanne a 2-0 win that saw them move up to fourth place in the table and a home quarter-final date with Monkstown next Saturday.

Boucher tucked in at the back post from a right-wing cross in the ninth minute and Clayton deflected in the second in the second quarter. Dale finish in seventh place as a result.

The match was Richard Fairman’s last as Annadale coach as he announced he will be stepping back from his role due to family commitments.

It brings to a close three years in the role, two of them interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. This season, they ended a run of 25 top tier games, dating back to February 2019, without a victory when they beat UCD 4-0 to steer them to safety..

John Stephens, Annadale Club Chairman said: “We would like to thank Richard for all he has done for the club during his time here. His commitment and enthusiasm throughout these times was second to none. We totally understand him wanting to spend more time with his young family and everyone at Annadale Hockey Club wish him all the best for the future.”

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Lisnagarvey survive heart-stopping late drama to win men’s EYHL

Lisnagarvey survived a real final day scare to land the men’s EY Hockey League title following a heart-stopping final day of the season.

The Comber Road men needed just a draw to secure the title ahead of Three Rock Rovers and they looked to be cruising with 15 minutes to go as they led 4-3 against Banbridge while the Dubliners trailed against Monkstown.

But three wild minutes made for a tense close to an epic campaign as Rovers turned things around with Ben Johnson and Harry MacMahon both scoring to land a 3-2 success at Rathdown in the dying seconds.

Simultaneously, Banbridge levelled through Jonny McKee from the penalty spot to make it 4-4 while Garvey needing to hold on for the last eight minutes.

There were Bann chances but their Ulster rivals hung tough to allow James Corry to lift the regular season title for the third time in this full-season format.

It was an afternoon of rollercoasting emotions as Garvey led 1-0 and 2-1 with Ben Nelson and James Lorimer but opened the door when they fell 3-2 behind in the second half.

Vitally, Andy Williamson equalised and, with 20 minutes left, Ollie Kidd gave an extra buffer before the late nerves began to set in.

McKee’s stroke – his second of the day – had hearts fluttering but Errol Lutton’s side took the spoils, taking the league on goal difference and a guaranteed European spot.

For Three Rock, this competition remains the elusive one for their trophy cabinet as they finished second for a third successive time, goal difference the key factor for a second time.

They will hope to bounce back in three weeks time at the EY Champions Trophy at Havelock Park where they are going for a fourth successive title.

Both Garvey and Rovers are straight into the semi-finals while Banbridge will meet YMCA and Glenanne host Monkstown in the quarter-finals next weekend.

The Glens were strong 2-0 winners over Annadale with Shannon Boucher and Adam Clayton on the mark – Dale miss out on the playoffs as a result.

At the bottom, Pembroke produced the great escape as they beat UCD 6-2 with Ewout Albers scoring twice, his first goals for the club’s first team, with Julian Dale also netting twice.

They still needed a favour from YMCA who did just that, beating Corinthian 2-1 to confirm their playoff place while the reds dropped into the bottom two as a result.

In the promotion playoffs, Instonians eased to a 5-1 victory over Bandon with Olympians Mark Gleghorne and Mikie Watt accounting for three of the goals.

They advance along with Clontarf who needed a shoot-out to eliminate Cork Harlequins after normal time ended 2-2.

On the women’s side, Queen’s defeated UCC 5-0 while Corinthian got the best of Cork C of I by the same scoreline, marking a rough day for the southern city, ending hopes in each competition of reaching the top tier.

Men

EYHL Division 1: Banbridge 4 (J McKee 2, Ph Brown, D Finlay) Lisnagarvey 4 (O Kidd, B Nelson, A Williamson, J Lorimer); Corinthian 1 (M Neill) YMCA 2 (A Walker, R Henderson); Glenanne 2 (S Boucher, A Clayton) Annadale 0; Monkstown 2 (J Duncan 2, J Henry) Three Rock Rovers 3 (B Johnson 2, H MacMahon); Pembroke Wanderers 6 (E Albers 2, J Dale 2, E Foy, A Sothern) UCD 2 (J Filgas, E Ramsay)

EYHL2 Play-offs – Quarter-Finals: Clontarf 2 (S Grace 2) Cork Harlequins 2 (Brophy, J O’Meara), Clontarf win shoot-out 4-3; Instonians (M Gleghorne 2, M Watt, S Kelso, C Kirk) Bandon 1

Women

EYHL Division 2

Quarter-Final: Corinthian 5 (J McGrane 2, C Seggie, C Vincent, L McGrane) Cork C of I 0; Queens University 5 (Z Wilson, J McCarlie, C Whiteside, R Quinn, E Getty) UCC 0

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England first up for Junior Green Army in South Africa

After four months delay, what is another day as the Junior Green Army will belatedly get their World Cup campaign up and running on Saturday afternoon against England.

In this frequently adjusted tournament, David Passmore’s side had been due to play Ukraine on Friday morning but, despite their Herculean efforts to take part, this week saw those hopes formally end. It means Ireland are now in a three-team group with two to advance to the quarter-finals. 

** You can read more about Ukraine’s efforts to take part in Mary Hannigan’s Irish Times article here

“We are delighted to be here in this beautiful venue and excited to get going,” said Passmore ahead of the event. “It is such a disappointment that Ukraine won’t be here and we send our best wishes and support for them. 

“Our aim while we are here is to be the best we can, individually and collectively, and if we can, who knows where it will take us. Of course, we want to win every game!”

The first fixture is now against a reasonably well known opponent, Ireland having travelled to England for a training camp a couple of weeks ago and having enjoyed a series win over GB last summer.

But just 10 of the 20 players were named for the December date for this World Cup, showing quite a turnaround in the interim with 13 teenagers involved.

South Africa, in the final group game, will be a more experienced line-up and some well-known opponents with Kayla de Waal, Tamlyn Kock and Olympian Edith Molikoe part of the indoor tour party to Gormanston in February.

“It is a massively important event for the development of these players,” Passmore added of the special opportunity to test their mettle on such a stage and against different style of opposition. 

“They have been in our system for three or four years but developing outside of Europe and playing teams from all around the world on a different continent, only then can you establish and understand where they are going in hockey.” 

Domestically, it’s phase one of the women’s EYHL2 playoff series with Corinthian up against Cork C of I and Queen’s hosting UCC.

In both cases, the hosts will be the favourites. Corinthian built up for the date with a good value 3-2 win in midweek against Monkstown, ending the sky blues perfect record in Leinster and EYHL2 competition.

Cork C of I, though, have won their last two trips on the road – at NUIG and Lurgan – which ultimately saw them through. 

UCC go to Queen’s without the services of key player, the Potchefstroom-based Caoimhe Perdue. 

Saturday 2nd April 2022

Women

Junior World Cup

Pool A: Ireland v England, Potchefstroom 4pm

EYHL Division 2

Quarter-Final: Corinthian v Cork C of I, Whitechurch Park, 1.15pm; Queens University v UCC, Malone Playing Fields, 12.45pm

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Whelan helps Rovers take men’s EYHL title down to last day

Ben Whelan’s brick wall performance saw Three Rock Rovers withstand a Glenanne onslaught to edge a 2-1 win on Thursday night and make sure the men’s EY Hockey League title goes down to the final day.

The result lifts Rovers to within two points of Lisnagarvey who go to Banbridge on Saturday while the Dubliners have a match-up at Rathdown against Monkstown.

In the Thursday win, Glenanne made most of the early running but could not find a way through with Harry MacMahon somehow blocking a full power Shane O’Donoghue shot from mid-circle on the right post. 

Against the run of play, a deflected crash ball was blocked by goalkeeper Alex Henry but only as far as Ben Johnson (pictured) who slapped in the only goal of a first half, marked by a number of cards.

In their second half, the Glens got level when a baseline foul led to a stroke which O’Donoghue flicked high into the goal. Three Rock replied quickly, Jody Hosking left with plenty of time to smash in a corner which had been blocked by the number one runner with nine minutes gone in the second half.

After that, it was one-way traffic with Glenanne pushing on, needing a win to keep up their chances of making the top two. But they could not find a way beyond Whelan who made a plethora of good stops as the Glens ran up seven corners, the pick of them from a Richie Shaw sweep from the injection area and, with two minutes left, plucking an O’Donoghue drag out of the top corner.

It means the destination will not be determined until Saturday but Garvey hold the aces at this stage, a draw likely enough when they go to Bann. It is a meeting of two sides in strong form with the Hillsborough club on a five game winning streak while Banbridge have not lost since early October.

The Havelock hosts are guaranteed a home quarter-final in the playoffs and a win would give them a potentially easier draw on paper.

At Rathdown, meanwhile, Monkstown are hoping to become the first side other than Lisnagarvey to beat Three Rock this season; indeed, Rovers have not lost to anyone else since November 2019.

Outside of the top table, there are lots of other issues to be decided. Relegation is a straight contest between Corinthian and Pembroke. With a 12-goal advantage on goal difference over Pembroke, it looks like a draw might be enough for the reds when they host YMCA at Whitechurch Park.

Pembroke’s game against UCD starts 45 minutes before Corinthian get under way and so will potentially set a target midway through the final fixture. Both of the relegation-threatened sides have only won once since the turn of the year.

Annadale and YMCA are intertwined in pursuit of sixth place and the final playoff place. YM are in the box seat with a one-point advantage and that game against Corinthian. Dale go to Glenanne, needing a result to have a chance of a quarter-final spot.

The promotion playoff series also kicks off in earnest. Clontarf face a hasty rematch against Cork Harlequins, aiming to reprise their 6-1 win from three weeks ago. Quins were understrength that day due to Covid issues while the Bulls had a slightly tricky midweek 2-1 win over Dublin North.

Instonians host Bandon at Shaw’s Bridge with a number of the west Cork side hoping to add to a memorable week, the likes of Ian Perrott, Angus Seigne, Callum McCourt and Harry Forsey part of the All-Ireland schoolboys winning side.

Thursday 31st March 2022

Men

EYHL: Three Rock Rovers 2 (B Johnson, J Hosking) Glenanne 1 (S O’Donoghue)

 

Saturday 2nd April 2022

Men

EYHL Division 1: Banbridge v Lisnagarvey, Havelock Park, 2.45pm; Corinthian v YMCA, Whitechurch Park, 3.15pm; Glenanne v Annadale, St Andrew’s, 2.30pm; Monkstown v Three Rock Rovers, Rathdown, 2.30pm; Pembroke Wanderers v UCD, Serpentine Avenue, 2.30pm

EYHL2 Play-offs – Quarter-Finals: Clontarf v Cork Harlequins, Mount Temple, 3pm; Instonians v Bandon, Shaw’s Bridge, 3pm

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EYHL2 quarter-final line-ups confirmed

Clontarf produced a second successive 6-1 to top Pool 2 of the men’s EYHL Division 2 with a stunning second half performance to propel them into the promotion playoffs.

Going into the tie, just one point separated the three sides in this tightest of groups and it looked set to go right down to the wire as the first half ended scoreless.

But the Bulls went on a second half rampage with David Vincent scoring a hat trick to see them to race to first place in the group and also send Cork Harlequins through in second place with Kilkeel missing out on the playoffs.

In Pool 1, Railway Union topped the table after a comeback win over Cork C of I, knocking the Garryduff side formally out of contention as a result.

Rob Sweetnam had C of I 1-0 up at the break before the prolific Mark English weighed in with a double and Munster man Andrew McGregor also scored for Railway to build a 3-1 lead.

Sweetnam got another back but Railway held on to make it 26 points out of a possible 30 and a straight route through to the playoff semi-finals.

Instonians took second place with a 4-0 win at Rathgar courtesy of a Stephen Kelso hat trick, earning a quarter-final spot.

In Pool 3, Cookstown won top spot with a hard fought 2-1 win over Bandon at Steelweld Park. First half goals from Max Anderson and Michael Kerr made the difference with Ross Smyth cutting the gap.

That win earned the Tyrone club a semi-final spot with Bandon into the quarters. There, they will go to Instonians while Clontarf are up against Cork Harlequins.

On the women’s side, the playoff places were formalised. Despite a 5-0 loss to Queen’s, Cork C of I got the last playoff place on offer from Pool 2, finishing in third place.

It was an emotional one with Zoe Wilson making her comeback from injury, netting twice for Queen’s in the victory.

Lurgan could have overtaken them had they produced a shock against Monkstown but it never materialised as they fell 8-1 with Anna O’Flanagan scoring four times.

Pool 1 was all but finalised before Saturday’s play. Ards’ 3-0 success against Galway confirmed top spot with Corinthian second after a 2-0 win over Trinity.

It means Ards and Monkstown are straight into the semi-finals of the promotion playoffs while Corinthian will face Cork C of I and UCC go to Queen’s in the other quarter-final.

Men
EYHL Division 2
Pool 1:
Cork C of I 2 (R Sweetnam 2) Railway Union 3 (M English 2, A McGregor); Rathgar 0 Instonians 4 (S Kelso 3, J Kidd)
Pool 2: Kilkeel 1 (J Aiken) Clontarf 6 (D Vincent 3, J Mullins 2, W Eickholt)
Pool 3: Cookstown 2 (M Anderson, M Kerr) Bandon 1 (R Smyth); Portrane 4 (M Madsen 2, D Graham, S Graham) Mossley 1 (J Robinson)

Women
EYHL Division Two
Pool 1:
Corinthian 2 (J McGrane, L McGrane) Trinity 0; Galway 0 Ards 3 (A Adams 3)
Pool 2: Monkstown 8 (A O’Flanagan 4, S Hoban-Logan, C Watkins, C O’Reilly) Lurgan 1 (Gordon); Cork C of I 0 Queen’s 5 (Z Wilson 2, A Jebb, E Getty, C Whiteside)

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Pembroke take women’s EYHL title as playoff and relegation places confirmed

Women’s EY Hockey League – day 18 round-up
Pembroke 1 (A Naughton) Muckross 0

Aisling Naughton’s spectacular second minute goal was enough to get Pembroke the 1-0 win against Muckross they needed win the women’s EY Hockey League for the first time.

Earlier in the day, Catholic Institute beat Belfast Harlequins 2-1 at Deramore Park to take the league down to the last fixture to determine the destination of the title.

It meant Pembroke had to get a victory against a side fighting for their lives to try and escape relegation. And the Serpentine Avenue hosts got off to a dream start when Naughton dove full length at the left post to turn in Ellen Curran’s excellent ball.

From there, Pembroke dominated the play in the first half but a tough of over-eagerness meant an insurance goal proved elusive with Rachel O’Brien hitting the post and a number of other chances bouncing across the face of goal.

That ratcheted up the tension in the second half as any Muckross break-out had the potential to scupper the celebrations and, with lots on the line, the green and whites found some rhythm.

But Pembroke finished strong, controlling the final quarter as Aoife Glennon – an immense talent between the posts – kept out a range of shots from different angles.

“It’s just phenomenal to be able to finish it off like this, at home, in front of our crowd; absolutely buzzing,” Naughton said afterwards with the club landing the title for the first time having never breached the top four before in the EYHL.

“It is quite momentous. When a few of us joined a few years ago, we had a goal to bring the club to this level and we have a built a squad of not just 18; there’s 26 or so. And this is testament to that because we only played two matches at full fitness.

“We were delighted to get that early goal; we had plenty of chances and Muckross made it really difficult for ourselves. But we did have too many chances and we really do need to make sure of it if we are here again! But one’s enough!”

It also brings with it a guaranteed European ticket while for Muckross it means a drop back to EYHL Division 2.

Belfast Harlequins 1 (K Larmour) Catholic Institute 2 (R Upton, L Clery)
Catholic Institute can console themselves with a direct ticket to the EY Champions Trophy semi-final after a break-out performance in the regular season, finishing second overall.

Their win was built around goals from Roisin Upton and Leah Clery but they were also left with jangled nerves as Katie Larmour getting one back for Belfast Quins.

Needing a win to keep their title hopes alive, they started off brilliantly with Upton nailing a penalty corner drag-flick for her 13th of the competition this season.

But Quins, needing a win to secure their own fate at the time, were in no mood to lie down and they played their part in a corner exchange of an end-to-end first quarter. Clery doubled the advantage off the back of an outstanding run from Naomi Carroll but Larmour made sure there was no room for comfort with a corner goal; 2-1 at half-time.

And that was how it remained throughout the second half with Quins going closest to nicking one, hitting the post in the fourth quarter while they had two corners on the final whistle.

Insta, however, held on for a nervy win which meant Pembroke had to win their last game while Quins had to wait to see how Muckross fared. In the end, Quins stayed up on nine points.

UCD 0 Pegasus 2 (A Speers, L McKee)
Pegasus earned a home EY Champions Trophy quarter-final berth with two first half goals giving them the points against UCD.

Pegs were up and running nice and early. They had already gone close from a couple of corners before Lucy McKee broke the deadlock in the sixth minute – Shirley McCay’s ball up the middle was controlled on the 23-metre line and the forward weaved in and out of a couple of tackles before thumping home.

They moved two clear midway through the second quarter from their fourth penalty corner, a sweet move with McCay’s slap deflected in by Alex Speers.

Pegasus’s Emma Quinn. Pic: Adrian Boehm

UCD had a huge amount of pressure in the second half, running up five penalty corners, but each one was well dealt with by Megan Todd and her corner team while they also kept out a number of shots from the edge of the D to maintain their clean sheet and the three points.

For UCD, the result was just about enough to see them make it into the playoffs and a quarter-final rematch against Pegasus, edging out Railway Union on goal difference.

Old Alex 1 (S Robinson) Railway Union 1 (Z Delany)
Old Alex got enough from this tie to secure their place in the EY Champions Trophy quarter-finals at the expense of Railway Union who could have potentially overhauled them with a victory at Milltown.

It was an incredibly tight match, befitting how close things have been in mid-table all the way through the campaign. Railway had the early pressure with a high press working well before Alex broke out with Nikki Evans almost linking up with Mikayla Power.

Kate Dillon’s touch was well dealt with by Holly Micklem as Q1 ended scoreless and it remained that way through Q2 as Lena Tice’s corner slap was cleared and Evans had an effort snuffed out.

Into the second half, Kate Lloyd’s volley was repelled by Micklem’s left boot but it was Alex’s turn to camp in Railway territory and when Power won a corner, they went in front with Sarah Robinson deflecting in a Tice slap from the top.

Needing a win, Railway got their lifeline before the end of the third quarter when a bouncing past made it to Zara Delany at the far post to finish off.

Alex looked the more likely in the early staged of Q4 to score next with Evans and Abbie Russell firing shots but Railway remained a threat and had the big moments in the last few minutes. The Milltown side survived, though, and finish in fifth place and a date with Loreto in the playoffs.

Cork Harlequins 1 (M Barry) Loreto 5 (C Hamill 3, S O’Brien, Y Pratt)
Cork Harlequins welcomed Loreto to Cork for the final match of their 2021/22 EHYL 1 season with the Dublin team prevailing in a hard fought and enjoyable encounter.

Loreto were without Hannah Matthews, but otherwise had a full strength side for Paul Fitzpatrick to choose from. Joy O’Kelly replaced the injured Lorna Bateman in goal for Harlequins.

The halftime score of 0-0 resulted from an even game in which neither side found their composure in the circle.

The first goal was all important, and it was Loreto made the breakthrough with a skillful individual finish on the reverse from the dangerous Chrintina Hamill.

Harlequins had a chance to pull level from the flick spot in the 42nd minute, however Elizabeth Murphy’s strong stick save kept Loreto ahead. In fact, Hamill increased the Dublin side’s lead with a stroke in the 48th minute and completed her hat-trick a minute later to move the tie beyond Cork Harlequins.

Two further strikes for Loreto in the final quarter and a Michelle Barry consolation at the death meant a final score line of 5-1 to the visitors.Cork Harlequins finish the season at the bottom of the EYHL while Loreto have a quarter-final to prepare for.

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Lisnagarvey close in on men’s EYHL title with big win over Monkstown

Men’s EY Hockey League – day 17 round-up
UCD 2 (J Menelaou, J Filgas) Banbridge 3 (J McKee, L Witherow, D Finlay)

Banbridge ground out an important three points at Belfield against a gutsy UCD who showed up well despite having little left to play for this term bar pride. It keeps the Ulster club in contention for a possible top two spot and direct qualification for the EY Champions Trophy semi-finals.

Bann went in front in the eighth minute when Jonny McKee flicked in from a penalty corner switch to the right. The students replied quickly with Josh Fligas rebounding from the third wave of a messy penalty corner.

Luke Witherow restored the Co Down club’s lead from a brilliant end-to-end move, set in motion by Peter Brown and McKee’s lovely interchange on halfway.

Luke Witherow celebrates his goal for Banbridge. Pic: Adrian Boehm

But Jay Menelaou got a slightly fortuitous touch to Kevin O’Dea’s crash ball into the D to make it 2-2 at half-time with the students threatened a big shock.

Bann, though, moved in front for a third and final time early in the second half when McKee’s shot was well saved by Matthew O’Brien Holohan but only as far as David Finlay. From a tight angle, he roofed his shot.

McKee and Finlay were frequent threats throughout the tie but O’Brien Holohan was equal to those efforts. When the goalkeeper stepped out for an extra outfielder, it did open a golden chance for McKee when he robbed the ball on halfway but he chipped over on his backhand.

Lisnagarvey 5 (T Chambers 3, M McNellis, M Nelson) Monkstown 1 (L Cole)
Troy Chambers’ hat trick put Lisnagarvey within touching distance of the men’s EY Hockey League title with a breath-taking 5-1 win over Monkstown at Comber Road.

Town went into the tie off the back of six successive victories and they went in front when Lee Cole’s corner shot snuck in.

But Garvey have been in outstanding form in recent weeks and Chambers got them back on terms before half-time and four second half goals saw them spin into a big lead.

Mark McNellis smoked in a shot from a penalty corner breakdown to start the goal-rush; Chambers found space to tomahawk in the next and Matthew Nelson’s back post finish put them well and truly out of range.

Chambers completed his treble in the closing minutes as Garvey move five points clear of Three Rock Rovers in second place.

Annadale 3 (A McAllister, S Pinion, T Robson) Pembroke 2 (C Hynes, A Sothern)
Three Annadale goals in the first 22 minutes helped propel them to safety and within range of snatched a playoff place on the findal dat of the season. For Pembroke, it means they have to beat UCD in the final round of matches and then hope Corinthian don’t do likewise later next Saturday against YMCA.

Dale went ahead from their first attack of note, Callum Robson’s sharp hit on the turn getting a touch in front of the goalkeeper from Adam McAllister after a swift break-out.

Spencer Pinion then pushed in a low corner shot in the seventh minute and it was almost three a couple of moments later when Tim Cross’s shot went just wide.

The game was still barely 10 minutes old when Julian Dale got to a bouncing ball first before Sam Hamill and batted his volley wide just before colliding with the out-rushing goalkeeper as both sides threw everything into the first quarter. Pembroke had three corners to no avail.

Annadale, however, moved three clear when stopper Tom Robson received a corner on his open side and then hit into the left corner.

In the second half, an excellent Ilko Dartsch save denied McAllister a fourth before the Pembroke fightback started in earnest. A long overhead was missed by a defender in the left corner and Dale controlled and forced the ball across where Cillian Hynes got the final touch.

Big chances abounded with Hamill getting the best of a one-on-one chance while McAllister rounded Dartsch but his shot was deemed high and dangerous when it hit Philip Forster on the body with a shot which looked to be heading wide.

Sothern was credited with Pembroke’s second four minutes from the end amid some aerial pinball to make it 3-2 but Dale closed ranks to see out their second win of the campaign against Pembroke.

YMCA 2 (G Glutz, A Meates) Three Rock Rovers 4 (R Spencer 2, E Jennings, A Empey)
Three Rock Rovers moved back up to second in the men’s EY Hockey League as Ryan Spencer and Ali Empey goals in the last 20 minutes saw off YMCA at Wesley.

After a couple of early corners, Rovers went in front via Spencer who finished off from around the p-spot following a baseline run and pull-back.

YM stepped up in the second quarter and had a couple of corner chances go close but Rovers came on strong just before the big interval with Empey’s aerial skills leading to a big chance which goalkeeper Cameron Larkin did well to snuff out. The second goal arrived, though, when Evan Jennings cleaned from a corner on the hooter for 2-0.

The Y, though, were back level in jig-time in the second half when Grant Glutz scored a penalty corner and then Andrew Meates got a beautiful touch to Sam Hyland’s reverse-stick cross for 2-2.

The hosts, however, saw Meates and Ben Chadwick simultaneously sent to the sin-bin and Rovers got back in front in their absence, Empey – in his first game of 2022 – scored via a defensive deflection.

And Empey played a perfect pass to Spencer who was all alone at the top of the YM circle to get the insurance goal.

Glenanne 5 (S O’Donoghue 2, S Boucher 2, R Couse) Corinthian 2 (A Sutton, C Futcher)
Glenanne picked up their 10th win of the season to leave Corinthian with a nervous final day of the men’s EY Hockey League to look forward to next Saturday as they look to survive the drop.

The Glens got off to a great start with Shane O’Donoghue scoring a corner in the third minute and they were 2-0 up via Richard Couse with only eight minutes played.

Corinthian – who were without Peter Caruth, Robbie Clarke and Ben Murphy – did cut the gap with Andrew Sutton scoring his second goal of the season before half-time.

But the game was over early in the second half with Shannon Boucher scoring in both the 39th and 40th minutes. Chad Futcher got one back but O’Donoghue’s stroke copper-fastened the Glens win.

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Pembroke buzzing after women’s EYHL goes down to the wire

Aisling Naughton’s spectacular second minute goal was enough to get Pembroke the 1-0 win against Muckross they needed win the women’s EY Hockey League for the first time.

Earlier in the day, Catholic Institute beat Belfast Harlequins 2-1 at Deramore Park to take the league down to the last fixture to determine the destination of the title.

It meant Pembroke had to get a victory against a side fighting for their lives to try and escape relegation. And the Serpentine Avenue hosts got off to a dream start when Naughton dove full length at the left post to turn in Ellen Curran’s excellent ball.

From there, Pembroke dominated the play in the first half but a tough of over-eagerness meant an insurance goal proved elusive with Rachel O’Brien hitting the post and a number of other chances bouncing across the face of goal.

That ratcheted up the tension in the second half as any Muckross break-out had the potential to scupper the celebrations and, with lots on the line, the green and whites found some rhythm.

But Pembroke finished strong, controlling the final quarter as Aoife Glennon – an immense talent between the posts – kept out a range of shots from different angles.

“It’s just phenomenal to be able to finish it off like this, at home, in front of our crowd; absolutely buzzing,” Naughton said afterwards with the club landing the title for the first time having never breached the top four before in the EYHL.

“It is quite momentous. When a few of us joined a few years ago, we had a goal to bring the club to this level and we have a built a squad of not just 18; there’s 26 or so. And this is testament to that because we only played two matches at full fitness.

“We were delighted to get that early goal; we had plenty of chances and Muckross made it really difficult for ourselves. But we did have too many chances and we really do need to make sure of it if we are here again! But one’s enough!”

It also brings with it a guaranteed European ticket while for Muckross it means a drop back to EYHL Division 2.

For Catholic Institute, they can console themselves with a direct ticket to the EY Champions Trophy semi-final.

Their win was built around goals from Roisin Upton and Leah Clery but they were also left with jangled nerves as Katie Larmour getting one back for Belfast Quins.

Pegasus secured a home quarter-final berth with a 2-0 win over UCD with the students scraping into a rematch with the Ulster side as Railway Union could not do enough against Old Alex to break into the playoffs, a 1-1 draw.

Old Alex will meet Loreto who eased by Cork Harlequins 5-1 with a hat trick from Christina Hamill.

** Fuller round-up to be posted in due course

Women’s EY Hockey League: Pembroke 1 (A Naughton) Muckross 0; Belfast Harlequins 1 (K Larmour) Catholic Institute 2 (R Upton, L Clery); Old Alex 1 (S Robinson) Railway Union 1 (Z Delany); Cork Harlequins 1 (M Barry) Loreto 5 (C Hamill 3, S O’Brien, Y Pratt); UCD 0 Pegasus 2 (T Doherty, K Magee)

Pembroke goalscorer Aisling Naughton celebrates with Emily Beatty. Picture: Max Fulham

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EYHL2 playoff places to be finalised as groups come to a close

The men’s and women’s EY Hockey League playoff places will be finalised on Saturday with elements to be decided in each of the five different groups.

Men’s Pool 2 has just one game but looks like the one with the most intrigue. Last week, Harlequins, though, gave themselves a fighting chance in Group B thanks to a 2-1 win over Kilkeel with Harry O’Byrne and Andrew Dale getting the goals.

It puts them top of the three-team group by one point. Quins have finished their matches and so await Kilkeel and Clontarf’s result from next week with numerous permutations at play.

Kilkeel dropped to the foot of Group B as a result but there is only one point separating everyone. A draw would see both Kilkeel and the Bulls go through as would a win for either by a single goal due to the bonus point rule.

And so Quins are hopeful one side will run away with the contest at Kilkeel HS.

In Pool 1, Instonians put in a breathtaking performance to move ahead of Cork C of I in Group A as Mikie Watt and William Robinson scored twice each in a 6-2 success.

It lifted them into second place with a date against bottom side Rathgar to come to secure their place in the playoffs. A losing bonus point will be enough for them while a win and a favour could lift them into the semis.

Railway have the edge at the top of the group but face a C of I side in Garryduff whose promotion hopes are in the last chance saloon, hoping for a big win and then a shock from Rathgar.

Both Cookstown and Bandon will advance from Group 3 but in what order remains to be determined; the Co Tyrone club beat Portrane 4-0 to sit top on goal difference while Bandon defeated Mossley 3-2.

The two group leaders meet on Saturday to determine who will take first spot and a probable place in the promotion playoff semi-finals.

On the women’s side, Pool 1’s major issues look to be done and dusted thanks to Corinthian’s 3-2 comeback success over UCC. It assures them of second spot with the Cork side guaranteed third due to the losing bonus point with Trinity eliminated despite a 3-1 win over Galway.

The only change that can happen to the rankings this week is if Corinthian win big over Trinity and Ards lose by a heavy scoreline. In effect, there needs to be an 11-goal swing in the reds’ favour to take top spot and a semi-final berth. UCC will finish third and in the other quarter-final spot.

In Pool 2, Monkstown are assured of first but if they take the foot off the gas against Lurgan and drop their first points, it could open the door for the Ulster side to overhaul Cork C of I. The Garryduff side moved into playoff contention with a 3-2 away win over NUIG, leaping them above Lurgan – who lost 4-0 at home to Queens – into third place. C of I could land second and a home quarter-final if they win against Queen’s on Saturday thanks to last Saturday’s

EYHL Division 2
Saturday, March 26th
Men
Pool 1:
Cork C of I v Railway Union, Garryduff, 2pm; Rathgar v Instonians, The High School, 2.45pm
Pool 2: Kilkeel v Clontarf, Kilkeel HS, 2.30pm
Pool 3: Cookstown v Bandon, Steelweld Park, 2.30pm; Portrane v Mossley, Donabate LC, 2pm

Women
Pool 1:
Corinthian v Trinity, Whitechurch Park, 3.15pm; Galway v Ards, Dangan, 1pm
Pool 2: Cork C of I v Queens University, Garryduff, 12pm; Monkstown v Lurgan, Rathdown, 2.15pm

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Garvey and Town showdown pivotal in men’s EYHL title race

On the penultimate match weekend of the men’s EY Hockey League regular season, Lisnagarvey can potentially win the title should they get the best of Monkstown and Three Rock falter against YMCA.

The former is the meeting between the two sides currently on the best runs with Garvey picking up 19 from the last available 21 points to set themselves clear at the top of the table.

Town, meanwhile, have won all of their league games in 2022, making it six in succession for Eddie O’Malley’s side. They have done so despite a number of absentees with David Nolan, Nick Dee and Jazze Henry missing last weekend’s 4-1 win over YMCA, opening up an opportunity for John O’Hara and Josh O’Neill to make their first team debuts.

They have been defensively tenacious with David Fitzgerald exceptional between the posts last weekend against YM who created a number of big chances that required his full attention.

The sides served up a thriller at Rathdown before Christmas with Town winning 4-3 but Garvey have not lost since hit steamroller mode, scoring 18 times in the last four games. Ben Nelson is in line for a return to action.

Rovers will be keenly interested in the outcome from this tie while hoping to fulfill their half of the title-chasing bargain when they go to YMCA in a repeat of St Patrick’s Day’s Mills Cup final.

For the Y, they have missed Matthew Walker at the base of their defence with his foot in a protective boot. Their main issue has been giving opponents a big start, going 3-0 inside 21 minutes in that cup finals and 2-0 behind against Town last Saturday inside four minutes.

Both times, they rattled their south Dublin rivals but only after they had a big deficit to make up.

At the bottom, there is lots to ponder once again. Perhaps the central tie in this regard is Annadale’s hosting of Pembroke. The Ulster side will go mathematically safe if they emulate their result at Serpentine Avenue before Christmas when they won out 4-0.

It would be quite a turnaround for Dale to do that. Between early February 2019 and late October 2021, they endured 30 winless EYHL games in succession through the pandemic years but that result allied to two successes against UCD has them on the verge of staying up.

Pembroke will benefit from the return of Julian Dale after suspension and their comeback point against Corinthian a week ago has kept them in touch with Dale and Corinthian.

For the reds, they were kicking themselves that they could not see home their lead against Pembroke with only 40 seconds remaining. They will be further stymied with Peter Caruth likely to miss this week’s tie with Glenanne at St Andrew’s.

Glenanne, meanwhile, have an exceptionally busy spell on their agenda. After this game against Corinthian, they host Lisnagarvey on Sunday in the Irish Senior Cup semi-final and then play Three Rock Rovers on March 30th in their refixed league game.

Saturday 26th March 2022
Men’s EYHL Division 1:
Annadale v Pembroke, Lagan College, 1pm; Glenanne v Corinthian, St. Andrews, 1.30pm; Lisnagarvey v Monkstown, Comber Road, 2pm; UCD v Banbridge, Belfield, 1pm; YMCA v Three Rock Rovers, Wesley College, 2.15pm

Sunday 27th March 2022
Men’s Irish Senior Cup, semi-finals:
Glenanne v Lisnagarvey, St Andrews, 1.30pm; Monkstown v Cookstown, Rathdown, 4pm