Saturday’s EYHL clash between local rivals Lisnagarvey and Banbridge at Comber Road certainly lived up to its billing as the hosts edged out Mark Tumilty’s team 5-4 after a nine-goal thriller.
There was little hint of what was to follow in a cagey opening quarter which was scoreless and virtually chanceless. But for the remaining 51 minutes, it was a thrilling contest as Bann went ahead and then trailed 3-1 before fighting back from 4-2 and 5-3 down to keep the big crowd on tenterhooks. Garvey were fielding a youthful line-up but it was relative veteran Timmy Cockram, who stole the show with a hat-trick. Cockram’s fellow 2016 Rio Olympian Eugene Magee weighed in with two of his team;s goals as the pair traded penalty corner conversions.
“Let’s call it as it is, Garvey deserved their win and all credit to Errol Lutton for the way he prepared his team,” said Bann coach Tumilty. “People were already writing Garvey off before the season but that’s nonsense; they’ll be up there challenging, that’s for sure.”
Cockram was delighted at the win and his personal tally after returning to the side following a year out after becoming the proud father of twins. “It was a close game as it invariably is when these two teams meet and it could have gone either way,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to help the younger lads along and hopefully we can continue to get better as a team as the season progresses.”
Bann had the only real chance in the first quarter as, Magee, playing in an unfamiliar defensive role due to the absence of Drew Carlisle, who was at a wedding, made a great take and set up Fraser Mills, whose effort was saved by James Milliken. Cockram fired narrowly wide in the 22nd minute but it was Bann who went ahead 60 seconds later when Johnny McKee slotted home after good work along the base-line. In the 29th minute, Magee could have doubled the lead but Milliken dived full-length to stop his penalty corner effort. A minute before the half-time break, Garvey were back on level terms when Harry Morris, son of Ireland 1990 World Cup star Ivan, did superbly to squeeze the ball home from close range. Cockram made it 2-1 from Garvey’s first set-piece early in the second-half and then Ireland U18 start Troy Chambers fired a backhand shot into the corner for 3-1 in the 49th minute. Six minutes later, Magee pulled one back from another corner but Cockram replied in kind to make it 4-2. Two minutes later, Magee made it a one-goal game with another clinical finish and then Matty Nelson fired over the bar at the other end. With nine minutes left, Cockram completed his treble when he finished off a lovely three-man move involving Nelson and Andy Edgar for the best goal of the match to make it 5-3. With four minutes remaining, Magee switched a corner to Alex Tinney, who fired home but Bann were unable to find an equaliser and Garvey held on for a valuable three points after an epic contest.
Meanwhile, Jack Haycock grabbed a point for Cookstown as his diving penalty corner rebound with seven minutes to go saw them share the points from a 2-2 draw with reigning league champions Glenanne at Steelweld Park.
The Co Tyrone side took the lead early in the second quarter when Stewart Wylie took in a long aerial on the left baseline high over his shoulder and proceeded to drive across the line before picking out Michael Kerr’s near post touch. Shannon Boucher responded with a low corner shot for 1-1 but parity almost proved short-lived when Mark Crooks hit the post soon after, keeping it all square. The Dubliners did go in front for the first time when Jonny McCormack got his first goal for the club, touching home in front of Josh McCabe from a corner routine. McCabe then kept his side in the running a couple of great stops, allowing his side a chance at getting the equaliser in the closing minutes, a corner rebound snapped up smartly by Haycock.
Annadale got their first win of the EYHL season, ending Pembroke’s perfect start to the campaign with a gritty 2-1 win with all the goals coming in the final quarter. The game cranked up a notch in the second half with Pembroke hitting a post and Mushiete skying the rebound while Pembroke saw two corners and a stroke saved. Peter Caruth broke the deadlock in the fourth quarter with a power-slap but Pembroke replied immediately via a Keith O’Hare drag-flick with 12 minutes left. But Dale were able to nick the win when they took a long corner which was crashed to the back post and was tapped in by David Tremlett.
In the Irish Senior Cup, Instonians were left cursing their luck after losing 4-3 to UCD after leading 3-1 at half-time at Shaw’s Bridge.
William Robinson converted a corner and a stroke to make it 2-0 and then Stephen Kelso added a third after UCD had pulled one back.
But things unravelled for Inst as the students clawed their way back to 3-3 and then grabbed the winner 10 minutes from the full-time hooter.
Belfast Harlequins were 3-0 winners over Avoca in Dublin with goals from Robin Quigley, Stephen McGrath and Luke McClelland.
Kilkeel defeated Bangor 3-1, goals from Gareth Russell, Luke Russell and Eddie Agnew sealing the deal with Matthew Wylie replying for their Co Down rivals.
Queen’s went down 1-0 away to Railway Union while South Antrim also exited in Dublin, going out on penalties following a 1-1 draw with Clontarf, after Adam Clarke had given the Lisburn team the lead.
In the Irish Hockey Trophy, North Down were Ulster’s only winners as they defeated Portrane 4-3 but there were losses for Newry and Raphoe.
EYHL: Lisnagarvey 5 (T Cockram 3, H Morris, T Chambers) Banbridge 4 (E Magee 2, J McKee , A Tinney); Cookstown 2 (M Kerr, J Haycock) Glenanne 2 (S Boucher, J McCormack); Pembroke 1 (K O’Hare) Annadale 2 (P Caruth, D Tremlett); Cork C of I 2 (S Parker, A Deane) YMCA 2 (G de Grandis, G Glutz)
Irish Senior Cup: Kilkeel 3 (G Russell, L Russell, E Agnew) Bangor 1 (M Willis); Railway 1 (R Devlin) Queen’s 0; Avoca 0 Belfast Harlequins 3 (L McClelland, S McGrath, R Quigley); Instonians 3 (W Robinson 2, S Kelso) UCD 4 (D Nolan 2, J Henry 2); Clontarf 1 (M Duggan) South Antrim 1 (A Clarke) Clontarf won shoot-out 3-1
Irish Hockey Trophy: Ashton 3 (C Kavanagh, C Buttimer, P Sweetnam) Newry 1 (N McKnight); North Down 4 (J Moore 2, G McKeown 2) Portrane 3; Raphoe 2 (J Long, S Cleverley) Rathgar 3 (A White, M Evans, S Thompson); UCC 3 Cork Harlequins 2