Lisnagarvey in dreamland with part two of potential treble

Men’s EY Champions Trophy
Lisnagarvey 2 (J Lorimer, D Nelson) Banbridge 2 (J McKee, E Magee), Lisnagarvey win shoot-out 3-1

Daniel Nelson and James Milliken combined to send Lisnagarvey into raptures as they broke home Havelock Park hearts with a shoot-out win over Banbridge in the men’s EY Champions Trophy final.

Nothing separated the sides in their two league encounters and there was absolutely nothing between the sides once more following a cracking contest in front of a large Co Down crowd.

In normal time, Lisnagarvey led twice in the first half with James Lorimer’s drag-flick and a gorgeous Daniel Nelson finish putting them 2-1 up at half-time, Jonny McKee’s individual effort getting Bann on the board.

The hosts fought back brilliantly in the second half and forced a shoot-out when Eugene Magee volleyed in a corner rebound, sending the game to a shoot-out. Garvey, though, held their nerve and scored three of their four attempts, Nelson spinning to turn in the winning goal.

For Banbridge, it continues their frustration on finals day with the club losing out on the national stage for a fifth time in the last decade since their 2011 success. They will travel to Europe next season as Ireland’s second seed with Garvey the top seed and they will look to complete a treble next weekend in the Irish Senior Cup final against Monkstown.

For Daniel Nelson, the eldest of three brothers in action, he could not contain his excitement: “Unbelievable! Can’t put it into words. We lost this playoff three years ago and then with Covid, it has been a long time coming to get back to this point and this opportunity.

“To score in normal time, get the winning shoot-out, it is just unbelievable. Full credit to all the other boys – I get the glory but we wouldn’t be there without them and without all James Milliken’s fantastic saves. We are over the moon.”

For Garvey, it saw them add to the EY Hockey League title won three weeks ago on the final day of the season. Had it not been for Covid, that would have been three in a row as the curtailed 2019/20 season denied them that title when only a miracle would have seen them not finish first.

That scenario has added to the emotion of this success.

“We had a fantastic league win [in 2019] and were doing fantastically well in 2020 and then Covid hit; obviously bigger things came along than hockey. We always call this a 2.5-peat rather than a three-peat.

“To win these two trophies and a massive test against Monkstown next week, to have that opportunity for the treble is fantastic. An Ulster Cup final and a European trip after that! Everyone thinks our season is done but we still have a month to go!”

For Bann’s Alex Tinney, it was a unique occasion. Along with Garvey’s James Corry, it was the first time both clubs in the final had been captained by Donegal men.

The Banbridge home support. Pic: Max Fulham

“A tough defeat and a shoot-out is an unfortunate way to go out but we gave it our best shot,” Tinney said.

“The first five games, we only had five points and there was a lot of doubt in the squad nevermind the management. No one would ever thought we would be here but we will be back next year and fighting.”

Garvey made most of the early moves with Matthew Nelson’s spin shot bouncing just wide while Luke Roleston made an outstanding scrambling save.

The goal came in the 14th minute from their second penalty corner with James Lorimer’s drag having too much gas for Roleston into the left corner.

Garvey levelled, though, from their first major attack as Jonny McKee brilliantly robbed the ball on the right sideline. He drifted further and further left to get free before eventually unleashing a brilliant shot into the top corner.

The Hillsborough side, however, returned to the lead just before half-time in stunning fashion. Bann had a corner charged down which Lorimer filtered out to Ben Nelson. He had options left and right, picking his older brother Daniel who calmly feigned to pass across goal before lifting the ball in at the near post for 2-1.

Banbridge duly stepped up their press and intensity in the second half and it paid dividends with most of the play. Garvey were standing firm for the most part, Jonny Bell picking up huge amounts of ball in defence.

The pressure eventually told in the fourth quarter from their fifth corner, Philip Brown’s drag drawing a save from Milliken but only as far as Eugene Magee who controlled and volleyed in.

It sent the game to a shoot-out where Garvey soon took control, moving 2-0 up in the first two rounds with Milliken saving twice. McKee did get Bann on the board but they missed out in round four, allowing Daniel Nelson the chance to spin and whip home the clinching goal.

Lisnagarvey: J Milliken, J Lynch, J Bell, M McNellis, J Corry, A Williamson, D Nelson, A Edgar, M Nelson, T Chambers
Subs: P McKibbin, R Getty, O Kidd, H Morris, B Nelson

Banbridge: L Roleston, L Witherow, A Tinney, J McKee, Pe Brown, D Finlay, E Magee, Ph Brown, S Farson, M Cowan, C Rowe
Subs: H McShane, J Moffett, B Pollock, O Magee, M McKee

Umpires: B Bale, I Strange