Banbridge Hockey Club is to host the EYHL Champions Trophy for men and women on their new pitch at Havelock Park on May 4th and 5th.
The club have proved themselves highly capable and enthusiastic hosts in the past, having previously staged the Champions Trophy and Eurohockey League Round One. In the race to make the top-four, Glenanne moved a point clear at the summit of the EY Hockey League as they held on for a 2-2 draw with Lisnagarvey in one of the two games in the competition to survive the frost on Saturday.
The St Andrew’s hosts took the lead in the early stages when Cedric Jakobi’s drag-flick hit the Garvey post-man’s foot on the line. Player-coach Joe Brennan stepped off the bench to score the ensuing penalty stroke before returning to the sidelines with a 1-0 lead safely on the board. Jakobi fired another down the same line for 2-0, his flick going in off the post this time for a big early advantage.
Garvey, however, started to work their way back into the game with Brennan making a brilliant save off the line and Richard Couse having to scramble in defence. The goal was coming, though, and James Lorimer’s penalty corner shot found its way in off a defensive block following a lovely switch at the top of the circle. Matthew Nelson then levelled the game with a brilliant touch from a low drag-flick to make it 2-2, a big momentum swing before half-time as the Glens had a golden chance to make it 3-1 seconds before the leveller.
Garvey continued to press forward in the second half, putting the hosts under pressure, particularly when Gary Shaw and Shannon Boucher spent time in the sin-bin. Jakobi also saw yellow late on while Mark McNellis had to put in an unreal pick to deny the Glens a huge chance in the closing stages, keeping the game level to the final whistle. The draw sees Glenanne up to 16 points, one clear of Banbridge and Pembroke but with extra games played compared to both.
At Strathearn, Annadale recorded a 3-1 win over bottom side YMCA to move up to fourth place in the league. David Tremlett put Dale in front in the opening quarter before Ryan Burgess got the first of his two goals before half-time, a lead they held into the final quarter.
Burgess and Thom Ritchie exchanged goals in the final quarter as Dale recorded their fourth win out of eight, jumping up a couple of places in the table. YM are back in action on Tuesday evening against Three Rock Rovers at Grange Road. Rovers game at Cookstown was cancelled due to the frosty conditions over the weekend as was Banbridge’s game Pembroke and Monkstown’s tie against Cork C of I.
On the local men’s scene, just two Ulster Premier games beat the frost as Kilkeel defeated Bangor by the seaside and Civil Service and Belfast Harlequins drew 0-0 at Stormont. In the game in Bangor, Ashton Graham put the visitors ahead after only 14 seconds before William Annett and David Finlay scored to make it 3-0. Bangor fought back well with goals from Matthew Willis and Chris Barnes but were unable to find an equaliser as the champions held on for an important win.
Meanwhile, Megan Frazer is poised to make a sooner-than-expected return to the Ulster Elks line up after being an unused sub in Saturday’s crucial 2-1 Premier League win over Rainey in Magherafelt.
The World Cup silver medallist broke a bone in her hand just three weeks ago when Ireland were on a warm weather training camp in Chile. But she is set to make her comeback next Saturday when the Elks take on Ballymoney at the Joey Dunlop Centre before returning to German club Mannheimer next month. Yesterday’s was the only women’s game in the province to survive the wintry weather, helped by the fact it was played indoors at the Meadowbank Arena.
Joel Cathcart’s side are closing in on a top three finish which would be enough to secure a place in the second tier of the Irish Hockey League next season, provided Ards don’t get relegated from the top flight. The Elks remain in fifth place but are just two points behind Lisnagarvey following Saturday’s win as they extended their unbeaten run to eight matches. Anna Hutchinson broke the deadlock in the 25th minute from a penalty corner and then doubled the Elks’ lead with a superb solo effort midway through the second half.
Rainey pulled one back with 10 minutes left when Charlotte Beggs converted a penalty stroke. Elks coach Cathcart declared: “It was just great to get the game played as we have a bit of catching up to do as this was only our second match since Christmas after beating Randalstown last week.
“The fast pitch suited us and we could have brought Megan on if needed and it will be great to have her back for another big game at Ballymoney next week.”
Following yesterday’s loss, Rainey remain anchored to the bottom of the table but trail Ballymena only on goal difference. Meanwhile, Ireland’s women fell to a disappointing 3-0 defeat to India in Murcia on Sunday as they continued their preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic qualifying process. Head coach Graham Shaw will be looking for improved performances in this week’s three internationals with Spain, beginning with Monday evening’s clash in Granada (5.30pm). Ireland, who had drawn the first Indian game 1-1, had plenty of possession but created few genuine goal scoring opportunities.
They have now won only one of their last six internationals since the World Cup and that was against lower-rankled Chile in Santiago last month. Shaw gave some of his younger players a chance to impress – including Lurgan born twins Bethany and Serena Barr – but still fielded a strong squad, including 10 World Cup silver medallists. Ireland had beaten India twice on the way to reaching the final of the London showpiece but they deserved to end a seven-game losing streak against Shaw’s girls.
They displayed a more clinical touch in front of goal and took the lead in the opening quarter when Navjot Kaur celebrated winning her 150th cap by shooting home after a good move down the left. India doubled their lead shortly before half-time when, after Ireland had mis-trapped a penalty corner, Reena Khokhar slammed home a rebound following another set-piece. Ireland continued to create chances early in the second half as Nikki Evans linked up smartly with Lizzie Colvin to win a penalty corner but it cam to nothing.
Shirley McCay, winning her 275th cap, and fellow Ulster woman Katie Mullan were next to test the India defence with a crash ball across the circle followed by another penalty corner but Ireland’s finishing let them down again. Mullan and Nicci Daly then combined to set up Nikki Evans who was unlucky to see her shot crash off the post. India sealed the win in the last minute when Gurjit Kaur sent a powerful drag flick low into the corner of the net.
International: Ireland 0 India 3 (N Kaur, R Khokhar, G Kaur)
Ulster Premier League: Rainey 1 (C Beggs) Ulster Elks 2 (A Hutchinson 2)
EY Hockey League: Annadale 3 (R Burgess 2, C Tremlett) YMCA 1 (T Ritchie); Glenanne 2 (J Brennan, C Jakobi) Lisnagarvey 2 (J Lorimer, M Nelson)
Ulster Premier League Division A: Bangor 2 (C Barnes, M Willis) Kilkeel 3 (A Graham, W Annett, D Finlay)
Ulster Premier League Division B: Civil Service 0 Belfast Harlequins 0
Intermediate League: Saintfield 3 (J Taylor, C Harkness, A Reid) CI 2