Lisnagarvey back on top of men’s EYHL with thrilling win

Men’s EY Hockey League – day 13 round-up
Three Rock Rovers 2 (R Canning) Lisnagarvey 3 (D Nelson, A Edgar, O Kidd)

Lisnagarvey won a top-table classic to move back to the top of the men’s EY Hockey League table as they beat previous leaders Three Rock Rovers 3-2.

It was their second successive win at Grange Road, winning 2-0 in the Irish Senior Cup a week ago, with this tie a far more open affair.

Garvey looked in good shape to win with something to spare when Ollie Kidd set up Daniel Nelson for a simple finish in the first half and Andy Edgar whipped in a penalty corner drag-flick.

But Rovers came storming back in the third quarter and got a deserved one back via Ross Canning’s outstanding reverse-stick shot that ripped into the netting.

Rovers looked well set to potentially level it in Q3 but Garvey steadied the ship and went into a 3-1 lead courtesy of Kidd’s goal from another set piece.

In the endgame, Peter Blakeney cracked a shot off the post with James Milliken getting an incredible touch to redirect it and the goalkeeper also brilliantly smothered Harry McMahon’s deflection.

James Walker smashed in a second for Rovers with two minutes to go before Matthew Nelson became the next player to rattle the metalwork with a powerful shot pinging off the crossbar.

It puts Garvey into a two-point lead at the head of the table with Rovers dropping back to second, level on points with Glenanne who were 5-2 winners over UCD.

“It’s been tough coming two weeks in a row here and it is always tough against these guys so delighted to come away with the points,” said goalkeeper Milliken post-match, highlighting how his side toughed up a concerted second half onslaught.

“We work really hard on our PCD [penalty corner defence] and it is one of our points of pride; sometimes its guys picking it off the line, sometimes are runners charging it down and occasionally I have to do a job!”

Lisnagarvey’s Troy Chambers and Three Rock Rovers’ Peter Blakeney. Pic: Adrian Boehm

It is the sixth successive round the lead has changed hands in the competition and Milliken says it keeps Garvey on alert that there is a long way to go.

“It is a significant win but we have to keep our feet on the ground. There’s five games left and a lot of teams playing well – Glenanne going well, Banbridge doing great stuff.

“You have to play well every week, have that as a baseline and not as a peak. Every team is working so hard this year and it is one of the most competitive years we’ve had and it forces you to be better every week.”

Annadale 2 (C Robson 2) YMCA 5 (H McCarthy 2, F Marriott 2, A Meates)
YMCA won a huge three-points at Annadale to move five points clear of the relegation zone and also give them a buffer in sixth place in the chase of the playoff places.

It took just two minutes for them to open the scoring with Harry McCarthy picking up the ball wide on the right and delivering an inviting cross for Fionn Marriott to deflect on his backhand.

There was just five minutes on the clock when Dale levelled, again a right-wing cross that was turned in first time, this one by Callum Robson with an open side slap. YM hit back when Scott Ruttle powered through the middle and while a couple of bodies were sent sprawling, Andrew Meates cracked home a reverse-stick shot for 2-1.

For the remainder of the half, Annadale laid siege to the YM circle but they could not make the most of five penalty corner opportunities. The visitors were proving far more efficient, through, as they grew their lead out to 3-1 in the third quarter as a diagonal overhead from Sam Hyland created an overload with the cross going to McCarthy to sweep in his first of the day.

Annadale bounced back with Michael Robson’s slip pass through to Callum Robson allowed the latter slam in his second, cutting the gap to 3-2. But they were wide open at the back and another long ball saw McCarthy through one-on-one with Sam Hamill and he rounded the goalkeeper fo 4-2.

Matthew Walker’s long overhead from left back made it all the way through to Marriott, again behind the last defender, and he slotted home with nine minutes to go and a big three points were assured.

Pembroke 3 (A Sothern 2, G Chambers) Banbridge 5 (Ph Brown, J McKee, O Magee, J Moffett, L Rowe)
Banbridge continued their excellent form, extending their run to eight games unbeaten as they won a goalfest at Serpentine Avenue. It was a measure of things to come that Owen Magee drew the first save from Ilko Dartsch just 10 seconds in.

Pembroke hit the front soon after when Greg Chambers cleaned up off the pads of Luke Roleston following an initial save from Cian Murphy. Bann replied with Philip Brown dragging down the middle from their first corner and they went 2-1 ahead from the penalty spot.

Annadale’s Michael Robson holds off YMCA’s Matthew Walker. Picture: Billy Pollock

Brown’s initially drag was parried high in the air where Jonny McKee batted it goalwards onto the body of Nick Burns; McKee slotted the stroke. It was 2-2 at half-time, though, as Sothern produced one of his trick moves at corner time, dribbling, lifting then bunting home from close range.

Bann restored their lead in the second half when, after some strong Pembroke blocks, a long corner was played to Magee whose shot from a tight angle snuck in. Josh Moffett made it 4-2 in the 44th minute when Alexander Tinney made it all the way up to Louis Rowe; he slipped the ball to Moffett who had a simple tap-in.

A direct Alan Sothern drag brought the contest back into focus but Banbridge killed off the game with nine minutes to go as the Co Down side hunted in packs to turn over the ball on halfway. The ball was fed forward to Rowe who was a handful all game and he dummied the goalkeeper before scoring.

Pembroke had a series of late corners but none hit the sweet spot and so they remain in ninth place while Bann move within two points of second place for the first time since the second day of the season.

Glenanne 5 (S O’Donoghue 4, G Gibney) UCD 2 (S Byrne, H Lynch)
Shane O’Donoghue netted two strokes and two corners to see Glenanne move back into second place with a 5-2 win at St Andrew’s. Gavin Gibney opened the scoring for the Glens with a diving finish to a backhand cross from the left-wing before the students replied with Sam Byrne finishing off in the wake of a turnover move on halfway.

But then O’Donoghue took over, making it 2-1 at half-time from the penalty spot after his initial drag hit a foot on the goal-line. He went direct to make it 3-1 with a direct shot, one which UCD countered with a corner goal of their own from Harry Lynch.

O’Donoghue, though, completed his hat trick in the 58th minute and he made the results extra safe with his second stroke, again awarded after his drag hit a UCD body on the line.

Corinthian 1 (P Caruth) Monkstown 6 (D Carson 2, L Cole 2, G Sarratt, M Gibbons)
Monkstown eased to a strong win over Corinthian to close the gap to the top of the table and put themselves in the frame for a possible top two finish and direct qualification for the EY Champions Trophy finals weekend.

It was 2-0 at half-time and while Peter Caruth got one back for the reds in the third quarter, Monkstown race off into the distance with Davy Carson and Lee Cole scoring twice each with Guy Sarratt and Mark Gibbons also chipping in.