Banbridge’s pair of wins over the weekend propelled them to top of the men’s EY Hockey League with a game in hand on their nearest rivals, Glenanne, following the weekend’s action.
Bann were made to work all the way on Saturday at Garryduff where they trailed deep into the second half before turning the game around. Josh Moffett gave them a great start but John Jermyn turned things around with a corner rocket and a brilliant assist for Phil Brownlow to make it 2-1 to the Cork side. But further goals from Moffett and Zach McClelland made it 3-2 to Banbridge and top on Saturday night.
A first half Banbridge blitz then saw the Co Down side end the weekend in top spot with a comfortable win over Cookstown who had a weekend to forget. Eddie Rowe gave them the lead with a sublime upright reverse-stick finish. Matthew Rollins took a corner shot off the line but Bann were not to be denied a second for too long as Josh Moffett deflected home before the quarter time break.
The hosts also welcomed Philip Brown for his first appearance of the season and they got their third goal when Fraser Mills got to the byeline and found Luke Witherow to score. Eugene Magee’s corner supplied the fourth goal before half-time. Four first half goals put them out of sight on a day when Philip Brown returned to action after a long injury layoff for his first game of the season.
Mills hit the post early in the second half before Cookstown got some reprieve when Stu Smyth planted a low flick into the corner. Brown marked his comeback with an assist for David Rae to make it 5-1 and Alex Tinney completed the win from a corner switch.
For Cookstown, it was a tough weekend as they also fell 5-1 to Lisnagarvey on Saturday. The Nelson family had a day to remember as all three brothers were on the mark for Garvey as they swept aside Cookstown at a drenched Comber Road.
All their goals came in the first half with Ollie Kidd setting the tone in the second minute. James Corry’s penalty stroke a few minutes later doubled the lead before the Nelsons took centre stage. Matthew’s reverse-stick shot was deflected in by Ben for his first EYHL goal and 3-0 at the end of the first quarter. Matthew Nelson added the next, getting on the end of a quick attack following a swift attack.
Daniel Nelson soon got in on the act with a cracking backhand shot for 5-0 and it could have been worse for Cookstown when Ben Nelson hit the post and a second Matthew Nelson effort was ruled out. Cookstown got one back in the second half via Greg Allen as the heavens opened but no further goals accrued in the closing quarter. Garvey move up a couple of places above Three Rock Rovers and Annadale who were not in action this weekend.
In the men’s Ulster Premier, it’s as you were after champions Kilkeel and Instonians both won. Johnny Aiken hit two in Kilkeel’s 3-2 win at Mossley, who came from 3-0 down to stage a late comeback with goals from Irish international Neal Glassey and Simon Todd. Robbie McGaughan and William Robinson were on target for Inst in a 2-1 victory at Newry while Bangor beat North Down 4-1, helped by a Chris Barnes hat trick, to stay in contention
On the women’s front, dramatic goals in the last two minutes at both Grange Road and Belfield saw Loreto and Pegasus swap places at the top of the EY Hockey League at the halfway stage.
For Loreto, they left it to the very last whistle before Hannah Matthews eventually flicked in the winner against Cork Harlequins from a penalty corner for a 1-0 win. Just up the road in Clonskeagh, UCD did Loreto a huge favour with Abbie Russell scoring a late winner for the students against Pegs in a thrilling 3-2 success.
UCD had led with the only goal of the first half from Sarah Patton but two Shirley McCay inspired ripostes from Alex Speers and Taite Doherty swapped the lead to the Ulster side. Niamh Carey scored a pearler of an equaliser to get UCD back level and they duly won it at the end via Russell. The result puts Loreto onto 22 points with Pegasus one back on 21 while UCD are on 17, a little bit clear of a mad scramble in mid-table for the playoff places.
Railway Union jumped up a couple of places with a 2-1 win over Old Alex, Zara Delany getting the crucial goal in the final 10 minutes after Orla Fox and Emma Russell had traded goals. Pembroke and Belfast Harlequins shared a highly entertaining 3-3 draw at Serpentine Avenue as things remain very congested in mid-table. Wanderers drew first blood when Quins delayed a free too long for umpire Gillian Garrett’s liking and she reversed the decision.
Sinead Loughran was alive to the situation and raced onto the ball as the Belfast side stood watching; the first phase was cleared but only to Orla Macken who switched the point of attack to Gillian Pinder who hit home from top D. Jenna Watt smacked in a corner hit to make it 1-1 at half-time and they went in front in the second half. Lizzie Colvin did brilliantly to win the ball herself and race into the circle, unleashing a reverse into the bottom corner.
Orla Macken levelled the game for a second time when she, as stopper, took on an off-course corner injection and struck sweetly into the backboard. Early in the fourth quarter, Belfast retook the lead with Watt again the scorer, her hit taking a looping deflection off number one runner Loughran for 3-2. Pinder, though, had the final say when she floated in down the right channel and while her initial cross was cut out, the ball fell kindly for her to angle a slap into the top of the goal.
At local level, with previous leaders Lurgan and Queen’s dropping two points from a 1-1 draw, Ballymoney have taken over at the top of the Ulster Premier League following a 2-0 win over Ulster Elks on Saturday. Goals in the final 10 minutes from Aine Kearney and Katie Mullan settled a close contest at the Joey Dunlop Centre as the Elks surrendered their eight-game unbeaten run
Sarah McClure’s late strike rescued Lurgan a point from an entertaining 1-1 draw with Queen’s at the Dub. However, it would have been a travesty had the champions lost the game, dominating most of the second half after missing an early penalty stroke. The result means Queen’s stay the only unbeaten team in the top-flight, having dropped three points fewer than Robblie McMinn’s side.
Rebecca Quinn broke the deadlock in the 12th minute when she converted the first set-piece of the game. Eight minutes later, Queen’s keeper Sarah McCabe made the first of a string of fine stops when she dived full length to save Carly Johnston’s penalty stroke. Former Lurgan player Emily McStea missed a couple of good chances to double the Queen’s lead early in the second half when she also had a shot taken off the line. But Lurgan grew into the game forcing McCabe into several more fine saves until she was beaten by McClure’s excellent set-piece strike with four minutes left.
Elsewhere, Lisnagarvey moved third after a 3-1 win at Banbridge and Dungannon were 2-1 winners over Randalstown. Rainey have moved three places off the bottom after Betty Scott’s goal sealed a 1-0 win over Ballymena, who are now the basement side.
Raphoe have taken over at the top of Senior One after goals from Wendy Patterson (2) and Leanne Patterson sealed a 3-1 win over Castle and Omagh lost 2-0 to Priorians. Finally, congratulations to Dromore, who will meet Clonmel in the Irish Hockey Challenge final after a Hannah Buchanan goal gave the Co Down side a 1-0 victory over NUIG at Ferris Park.
EY Hockey League Results:
Loreto 1 (H Matthews) Cork Harlequins 0; UCD 3 (S Patton, N Carey, A Russell) Pegasus 2 (A Speers, T Doherty); Pembroke 3 (G Pinder 2, O Macken) Belfast Harlequins 3 (J Watt 2, L Colvin); Railway Union 2 (O Fox, Z Delany) Old Alexandra 1 (E Russell); Postponed: Ards v Muckross
Irish Hockey Challenge Semi-finals:
Clonmel 3 Tipperary 2; Dromore 1 (H Buchanan) NUIG II 0;
Ballymoney 2 (A Kearney, K Mullan) Ulster Elks 0; Banbridge 1 (P Haugh) Lisnagarvey 3 (J Flynn, K McIlwaine, R Houston); Dungannon 1 (J Elliott, J Hood) Randalstown 1 (T Robinson); Queen’s 1 (R Quinn) Lurgan 1 (S McClure); Rainey 1 (B Scott) Ballymena 0;
Armagh 0 Club KV 3 (J Doak, J Orr, S Patterson); Coleraine 1 (A McGill) CI 2 (L Ternahan, K Willis); Omagh 0 Priorians 2 (N Lowry, R McSparron); Raphoe 3 (W Patterson 2 L Patterson) Castle 1 (E McMaw).
EY Hockey League Results:
Saturday: Cork C of I 2 (J Jermyn, P Bronwlow) Banbridge 3 (J Moffett 2, Z McClelland); Lisnagarvey 5 (O Kidd, J Corry, M Nelson, B Nelson, D Nelson) Cookstown 1 (G Allen); Monkstown 3 (G Watkins, R Nichols, G Sarratt) Pembroke 2 (G Chambers, S Miller)
Sunday: Banbridge 6 (E Rowe, J Moffett, L Witherow, E Magee, D Rae, A Tinney) Cookstown 1 (S Smyth); Monkstown 3 (D Cole, G Sarratt, G Watkins) Glenanne 4 (D Keogh, C Jakobi, S Boucher, B Venter)
Ulster Premier Division A:
Bangor 4 (C Barnes 3, A Tweed) North Down 1 (T Finn); Mossley 2 (N Glassey, S Todd) Kilkeel 3 (J Aiken 2, D Finlay) ; Newry 1 (C McKnight) Instonians 2 (R McGaughan, W Robinson)
Ulster Premier Division B:
Belfast Harlequins 7 (P Gray 2, D Frazer, S McGrath, J Medcalf, N Anderson, J Neale) Antrim 1 (D Wilson) ; NICS 3 (S Armstrong 2, D Bradley) Queen’s 2 (J Hermon, J Taggart) ; Raphoe 5 (T Orr 3, J Long, K Meehan) Portadown 5 (A Stevenson 3, R Bennett, M Winter)