Although it’s very early days, Banbridge sit proudly at the top of the EYHL table after making it two wins from two with a 3-1 victory over Cork C of I at Havelock Park on Saturday.
Banbridge left it late for a second successive week with three goals in the last 10 minutes sealing the win. In the early stages of the game, C of I sat deep and looked to hit Bann on the counter. It worked well as they won a couple of corners and then a stroke 10 minutes in which John Jermyn converted. The Munster men had further chances repelled by Bann keeper Luke Roleston before Billy Lynch did well to block a Fraser Mills shot at the hosts’ first corner.
The second half saw Bann needing to be patient as the Munster men played a disciplined defensive game, holding their slender lead into half-time. With both Stephen Parker and Jermyn both shown cards, C of I were reduced to nine men for a spell but there was to be no breakthrough yet. It eventually came in the last 10 minutes when Johnny McKee embarked on a superb run and he picked out Josh Moffett to score via a deflection. That goal broke the visitors’ resistance and, soon after, Eugene Magee scored following a series of corners for 2-1 and Moffett added another deflected goal to make the game safe.
Cookstown were brought back to earth with a bump as they fell to a 4-0 home loss to Ulster rivals Lisnagarvey following their 7-1 opening defeat of Monkstown.
“It wasn’t what we were hoping for, that’s for sure,” said Cookstown striker Stuart Smyth. “We actually did quite a few things well, but when it came to it we couldn’t land a punch and that is really disappointing after the YMCA game. We are especially disappointed with our efforts at short corner time. We had enough chances from the set piece but it just wasn’t happening. Credit to Garvey though – when they got the chances they took them.” “I think there are a few things that we need to improve on as a team ahead of the Glenanne game (on Saturday).
“We were a bit ponderous around the back and that allowed them to disrupt our play as we moved up the field. When we did get into good positions we made so many silly errors. Cut those out and up the speed of play and I think we’ll be there or thereabouts next week.”
Garvey certainly looked the hungrier in the first quarter of the match at Steelweld Park. Determined to bounce back from their opening day loss to Pembroke, they pushed forward at pace. With ten minutes gone James Lorimer slotted home a flick from a penalty corner to give the Hillsborough men the lead.
A defence splitting pass picked out Matthew Nelson at the top of the circle just five minutes later and he hit a smashing reverse across Josh McCabe and into the far corner for 2-0.
Cookstown had opportunities from corners in the second quarter but it was Garvey who extended their lead when Daniel Nelson picked the ball up wide on the left and slammed a reverse into the Reds’ circle. Everyone missed it except Andy Williamson who turned it in at the back post. Cookstown felt they were the better team in quarter three but despite their pressure, Lisnagarvey stood tall despite being twice down to ten men. Matthew Nelson finished the game as a contest in the fourth quarter, making it 4-0 after a superb Connor Quinn pass.
Annadale fell to a second consecutive defeat when they went down 2-1 to last term’s regulation season champions Glenanne at Strathearn. David Keogh gave the Glens the lead in the second quarter before the experienced Eddie O’Malley stretched the advantage after the break. Cameron Ruttle got one back with his second goal in two games since moving from Dublin but too late to affect the outcome. Annadale did however finish strongly forcing three penalty corners in quick succession in the dying moments but they were unable to find an equaliser.
Spectacular comebacks where the order of the day in the men’s Ulster Premier, none more so than at Kilkeel. The champions were trailing North Down 4-1 but staged a dramatic revival to draw level before Mark Stevenson grabbed a last-gasp penalty stroke winner in a 5-4 success. Instonians were also behind against Newry at Shaw’s Bridge where the visitors led 1-0 but the home team responded with strikes from William Robinson and Michael Keane to win 2-1.
Queen’s were also on the comeback trail after Curtis Murray put Antrim ahead at the Dub but the students hit back to lead 3-1 before Ryan McCrea’s consolation. Their 3-2 victory keeps Queen’s at the top of the table after three wins from three as Portadown dropped their first points of the campaign in a 2-2 draw with Mossley.
In Friday night’s games, Bangor beat Belfast Harlequins 4-1, helped by a hat-trick from Harry Dow, while Raphoe and Civil Service shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw in Donegal.
Banbridge 3 (J Moffatt 2, E Magee) Cork C of I 1 (J Jermyn); Cookstown 0 Lisnagarvey 4 (M Nelson 2, J Lorimer, A Williamson); Annadale 1 (C Ruttle) Glenanne 2 (D Keogh, E O’Malley); Pembroke 4 (S Sullivan, G Garrett, S Sweetnam, C Murphy) Monkstown 3 (G Watkins, G Cole, G Sarratt); Dublin YMCA 1 (G Glutz) Three Rock 3 (D Walsh 2, B Walker)
Queen’s 3 (M Getty, M Warnock, S McClure) Antrim 2 (C Murray, R McCrea); Kilkeel 5 (L Russell 2, E Agnew, R Cunningham, M Stevenson) North Down 4 (T Donnan 2, J Moore, J Gilmore); Instonians 2 (M Keane, W Robinson) Newry 1 (R Irwin); Portadown 2 (M Beattie, N Gilmore) Mossley 2 (W Aston, J Robinson); Raphoe 2 (T Orr, J Long) Civil Service 2; Bangor 4 (H Dow 3, S Cox) Belfast Harlequins 1 (M Patterson)