Mark English gave Railway Union’s hopes of avoiding relegation from the men’s EY Hockey League a huge boost as he fired home the winner against Cookstown at Park Avenue.
It moved them level with the Co Tyrone side on points – but several goals back on goal difference – setting up a big battle between them over their last six games to decide who goes into the relegation playoff spot and who goes straight down.
Will Fernandez and Ryan Millar exchanged first-half goals before Simon McKeever put Railway in front. Stu Smyth equalised with 10 minutes to go before English reversed into the top corner.
At the top, Glenanne moved an extra couple of points clear, moving into a massive 10-point lead over Lisnagarvey. Shane O’Donoghue scored two penalty corners to put the Glens into the winner’s enclosure against Annadale before Peter Caruth’s goal late in the game made for a few nervous moments. The Tallaght side held on for a 2-1 success.
Chasers Garvey came unstuck by a Julian Dale wonder goal for Cork C of I, tying the game at 3-3. The Ulster side led three times with Daniel Nelson and Daniel Buser seeing their goals annulled by John Jermyn drag-flicks – building his total to five in three games.
Matthew Nelson put Garvey in front yet again at 3-2 but Dale showed an array of 3D skills to take in a Jermyn long ball and then lob James Milliken for 3-3 with five minutes to go.
In mid-table, Banbridge scored three times in the last quarter to beat Pembroke 3-1 at Havelock Park. Pembroke went in front via Alan Sothern’s corner flick in the third quarter but a pair of Philip Brown goals in quick succession turned things around before Jonny McKee completed the win in the last few seconds.
Monkstown vs Three Rock Rovers was canceled due to the funeral of Michael Darling, father of Irish Olympian Mitch. Rovers are due to play Railway Union in a back match on Thursday, weather permitting.
EY Hockey League: Annadale 1 (P Caruth) Glenanne 2 (S O’Donoghue 2); Banbridge 3 (Ph Brown 2, J McKee) Pembroke Wanderers 1 (A Sothern); Cork C of I 3 (J Jermyn 2, J Dale) Lisnagarvey 3 (D Nelson, D Buser, M Nelson); Railway Union 3 (W Fernandez, S McKeever, M English) Cookstown 2 (R Millar, S Smyth)
Extended day 14 match reports
Railway Union 3 (W Fernandez, S McKeever, M English) Cookstown 2 (R Millar, S Smyth)
The battle to avoid automatic relegation looks set to go down to the wire as Mark English’s top corner reverse earned Railway Union their second win of the campaign. It moves them level with Cookstown on six points, six points away from eighth placed Cork C of I in the safety zone.
They led three times with the third time proving vital. Willie Fernandez opened the scoring in the second quarter when he deflected in English’s cross. Ryan Millar tied the game up for Cookstown before half-time.
Simon McKeever finished off a nice Railway corner routine to retake the lead, giving the Dubliners a 2-1 lead going into the final quarter. Stu Smyth’s drag-flick tied it up at 2-2 with 10 minutes to go, setting up a frantic closing phase with Cookstown enjoying plenty of ball.
In that endgame, English produced the moment of quality from mid-circle to record a crucial victory. It means the two sides have a straight dogfight to avoid the drop over the next six games.
Annadale 1 (P Caruth) Glenanne 2 (S O’Donoghue 2)
Shane O’Donoghue’s penalty corner double moves Glenanne ever closer to the men’s EY Hockey League title as they survived a late scare to win in Ulster for a second successive week.
The Olympian made the breakthrough from his side’s fourth corner after Johnny Moore and David Smyth kept out earlier efforts off the line. O’Donoghue repeated the dose early in the second half for a lead they carried into the final quarter.
Dale did summon a strong second half fightback and they got right back into the mix when player-coach Peter Caruth with 16 minutes to go. They hit the post from a final second corner, too, which led to yet another set piece but Iain Walker saved it away to secure three more points.
With results elsewhere, Glenanne move 10 points clear of Lisnagarvey. Garvey have two games in hand but the league title is now out of their own hands even if they win all their remaining ties.
Cork C of I 3 (J Jermyn 2, J Dale) Lisnagarvey 3 (D Nelson, D Buser, M Nelson)
Julian Dale added another collector’s item goal to his growing set to earn Cork C of I a third successive draw. In so doing, they punctured Lisnagarvey’s hopes of reeling in Glenanne at the top of the table.
Garvey had led three times, moving in front via Daniel Nelson in the 10th minute. Dale won a corner which John Jermyn ripped home past James Milliken for 1-1 at half-time in a closely fought tie with the visitors holding slightly more of the ball.
Daniel Buser restored the Garvey lead in the 41st minute with a sliding touch from the right of the circle. Jermyn repeated the trick to make it 2-2 – his fifth goal in three games – but Garvey had the lead yet again with 10 minutes left when Matthew Nelson was on the mark.
Then came Dale’s moment; Jermyn was his foil once again with a long overhead, the striker took the ball in mid-air and flicked it over his shoulder and lobbed Milliken in the one movement.
It earns a draw which moves C of I six points clear of the relegation playoff place. For Garvey, it now takes the league out of their hands. They trail Glenanne – who they meet in the title run-in – by 10 points now with two games in hand.
Banbridge 3 (Ph Brown 2, J McKee) Pembroke Wanderers 1 (A Sothern)
Banbridge struck three times in the closing quarter to come from behind to beat Pembroke 3-1 and make a significant move toward the top half of the table.
Bann dictated the first quarter, winning a trio of corners but could not make full use of them with Mark Ingram holding firm. Pembroke replied in kind in the second quarter, running up a couple of corners which Gareth Lennox dealt with, leaving the game scoreless at half-time.
Against the run of play in the third quarter, Pembroke went ahead from their first real attack of note with Alan Sothern flicking in from a set piece. He was close to getting a touch to Kirk Shimmins’ cross early in the final quarter.
Philip Brown equalised from a drag-flick just inside the left upright and he put the Co Down side in front with a couple of minutes when a penalty corner was upgraded to a stroke. He sent Ingram the wrong way for 2-1.
Pembroke withdrew their keeper, seeking to repeat the trick of last week when they snatched a last minute equaliser. It almost paid off as Sothern had a chance on the reverse but Philip Brown blocked the chance. In the aftermath, Jonny McKee scored into an empty net in the closing seconds to make it 3-1.
Bann remain in sixth place but close the gap to fifth placed Pembroke to one point.