Lisnagarvey returned to the top of the men’s EY Hockey League as their 4-1 win over Annadale combined with a 2-2 draw between Three Rock Rovers and Banbridge lifted them a point clear.
For Garvey, they overcame a tricky tie in which they went ahead early but were unable to build further on Matthew Nelson’s second minute opener. Robbie Davidson equalised in the third quarter but the Comber Road hosts ran up late goals from Andy Williamson, Ollie Kidd and Jonny Lynch to pull clear.
For Rovers, they fought back twice from a goal down at Havelock Park against Bann but could not maintain their narrow lead at the top. David Finlay put the Co Down side 1-0 up in the first minute but Ben Johnson got the Dubliners back level only for Sam Farson to put Bann up at the break.
Johnson, though, struck again with a diving touch for 2-2 with eight minutes to go. It leaves Three Rock in a share of second place with Glenanne who picked up a 4-1 win over YMCA despite the absence of four front-line players.
After a scoreless first half, the Glens made their move in Q3 with Shannon Boucher and Shane O’Donoghue scoring. Scott Ruttle got one back with 10 minutes left but another Boucher effort and one from Paul Byrne made the game safe.
Corinthian were the other big mover, their first win since early October seeing them move four points clear of the relegation zone thanks to a 2-1 success against UCD. Peter Caruth got both of their goals with Sam Byrne getting a consolation goal for the students.
Pembroke, though, fell further adrift of safety with a 4-1 defeat to Monkstown as they are now four points away from safety. They started well with Julian Dale putting them ahead early on but two goals from Mark Gibbons turned the tide before Guy Sarratt and Davy Carson put the game out of sight.
Men’s EYHL Division 1: Banbridge 2 (D Finlay, S Farson) Three Rock Rovers 2 (B Johnson 2); Lisnagarvey 4 (M Nelson, O Kidd, A Williamson, J Lynch) Annadale 1 (R Davidson); Monkstown 4 (M Gibbons 2, G Sarratt, D Carson) Pembroke 1 (J Dale); UCD 1 (S Byrne) Corinthian 2 (P Caruth 2); YMCA 1 (S Ruttle) Glenanne 4 (S Boucher 2, S O’Donoghue, P Byrne)
Day 11 – match reports
Lisnagarvey 4 (M Nelson, O Kidd, A Williamson, J Lynch) Annadale 1 (R Davidson)
Lisnagarvey returned to the head of the men’s EY Hockey League but there is now just one point covering the top three in what is shaping up to be an epic second half of the season.
For Lisnagarvey, it was a sterner test than the final score suggests though they did have the best of the early exchanges with Matthew Nelson pouncing on a rebound after a right-wing cross bounced up invitingly and he bounced in a shot to take the lead.
James Lorimer hit the post via a crucial touch from Sam Hamill in the Dale goal but the visitors have impressed this term and, after steadying the ship in a quiet Q2, they were back on terms via Robbie Davidson early in the second half.
It owed a huge amount to Tim Cross’s tenacity and skill, haring down the left baseline and chipping the ball beyond a few tackles before squaring with Davidson getting enough power to shoot home.
Ollie Kidd, however, restored the advantage from an outstanding pitch-length move, started off from a free out and worked through three passes down the right sideline with the forward sliding in to touch in.
Hamill made a cracking save from Ben Nelson to keep Dale in touch but they could not make use of their only corner while Andy Williamson nailed his corner drag. And when Dale did not take two opportunities to clear, Jonny Lynch completed a strong win.
Banbridge (D Finlay, S Farson) Three Rock Rovers (B Johnson 2)
In the late game, Banbridge led twice but were unable to shake off a Rovers side who were reduced to nine players on occasion but rallied with two fine Ben Johnson goals.
David Finlay slapped in a first minute goal for the hosts for a dream start but Rovers were back on terms via Johnson after an initial save from Luke Roleston.
A corner on the half-time whistle, though, ended with Sam Farson restoring the advantage. Q3 saw both sides endure multiple sin-binnings before the game was ultimately settled when Johnson got a diving touch to Jody Hosking’s powerful ball across goal.
Bann could not take advantage of a corner in the last few minutes, meaning they have been pegged back by Monkstown into a share of fourth spot, seven points off leaders Garvey.
YMCA 1 (S Ruttle) Glenanne 4 (S Boucher 2, S O’Donoghue, P Byrne)
Understrength Glenanne got over a potential banana-skin as they got the best of YMCA to move into a share of second place with four second half goals at Wesley College.
They were without Ian Marron, Rowland Rixon-Fuller, Jason Rogan and captain Brad Venter but two late goals gave the final score a bit of gloss after a close-run battle between the two Leinster rivals.
The Glens had the best of the first quarter with YM absorbing a lot of pressure with Sam Hyland and Jakim Bernsden on corner defence keeping out the pressure. YM were much better in Q2, forcing a string of corners of their own which David Lawless did well to keep out, leaving it scoreless at the interval.
The Glens, though, made their move in the third quarter with Shannon Boucher opening the scoring in the 38th minute and Shane O’Donoghue doubled up from the penalty spot.
A cracking piece of work from Scott Ruttle got YM back into the tie with 10 minutes to go but Glenanne made sure of the points when Boucher got his second with four minutes left. In the final minute, Paul Byrne – in a rare first team appearance – snagged the fourth.
UCD 1 (S Byrne) Corinthian 2 (P Caruth 2)
Corinthian picked up their first win since early October to move four points clear of the relegation places thanks to a double from Peter Caruth. He fired them into the lead in the first quarter from a penalty corner and put a bit of extra daylight between the sides in the third quarter.
Sam Byrne pulled one back for the students in the closing quarter but the reds held on for a precious victory.
Monkstown 4 (M Gibbons 2, G Sarratt, D Carson) Pembroke 1 (J Dale)
Monkstown started the new year with a strong win over Pembroke, coming back from an early concession to strengthen their playoff chances.
For Pembroke, it leaves them in the relegation places and needing to get something from their upcoming games, facing four sides in the top half in their next four games.
The visitors did go in front in the first few minutes with a powerful drag-flick from Julian Dale as Pembroke got off to a good start. Town, though, soon began to create chances with Guy Sarratt hitting the post and Davy Carson and Mark Gibbons both had openings kept out by goalkeeper Ilko Dartsch.
The sky blues were level when Lee Cole – who was excellent in defence – powered into the centre, allowing the ball to pop invitingly for Gibbons to flick in. He got another moments later when Keith Kenning crossed from the right flank and the striker was in the right place to guide in from close range.
Pembroke did carry a threat through the second and third quarter with Dave Fitzgerald making big saves from Dale’s drag and twice from Isaac Johnson. But the game went out of sight when Sarratt dragged in the third and Carson got a deserved goal for a lively performance, latching onto a ball from Sam Hohn.
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