The men’s EY Hockey League returned with a bang on Saturday with Banbridge’s last minute winner against reigning EY Champions Trophy holders Three Rock Rovers providing an immaculate spectacle.
The tie was played in front of a big crowd at Havelock Park with Banbridge with the Saturday night lights illuminating their new turf and cracking hockey in the best possible way.
Bann built a 3-0 lead by 30 seconds into the second half with John McKee, Fraser Mills and Josh Moffett all scoring. Mark English – on debut following his move to TRR from Railway Union – got two back within a few minutes, though, to put the game right back in the mix with half an hour to go.
John Mullins levelled with five minutes left only for Bann to win a last-minute corner which Olympian Magee whipped home past Shane O’Brien, deputising for Jamie Carr between the posts for a 4-3 win.
YMCA, meanwhile, got a taste of how tough things will be in the top tier as they succumbed to a 7-1 defeat to Cookstown – ninth last year – with Stu Smyth nailing a hat trick. It was 2-0 after the first quarter and 5-0 before Ben Campbell got one on the board for the Y. Tim Sloan (2), Michael Kerr and Jack Haycock got the other goals.
Pembroke came back from a goal down to defeat Lisnagarvey at Comber Road. Andy Williamson had given the Ulster side the lead but efforts from Jack Ryan and Patrick Shanahan turned it around and goalkeeper Simon Thornton made the saves for the Dubliners to earn the points.
Monkstown produced a brilliant final quarter showing to beat Annadale 6-2. The tie was locked at 1-1 after the first half while Andrew Ward’s tap in saw Town eke out a 2-1 lead going into the final quarter but four goals in quick succession saw them soon race clear at the Merrion Fleet Arena.
Philip Brownlow, meanwhile, earned Cork C of I a share of the spoils at Garryduff against last year’s EY Hockey League regular season champions Glenanne. Shannon Boucher put the Glens in front from a corner but Brownlow found the leveller in the closing quarter for a 1-1 result.
Next week sees a couple of Dublin derbies with YMCA hosting their first EYHL game against Three Rock while Pembroke take on Monkstown while an all-Ulster clash sees Cookstown face Lisnagarvey at Steelweld Park. Annadale are home against Glenanne; Cork C of I hit the road to play Banbridge.
Men’s EY Hockey League: Cork C of I 1 (P Brownlow) Glenanne 1 (S Boucher); Monkstown 6 (D Carson 2, J Lynch, A Ward, S Byrne, G Watkins) Annadale 2 (C Ruttle, P Caruth); Lisnagarvey 1 (A Williamson) Pembroke 2 (J Ryan, P Shanahan); Cookstown 7 (S Smyth 3, T Sloan 2, M Kerr, J Haycock) YMCA 1 (B Campbell); Banbridge 4 (J McKee, F Mills, J Moffett, E Magee) Three Rock Rovers 3 (M English 2, J Mullins)
Next Saturday’s fixtures: Annadale v Glenanne, 2.30pm, Strathearn; Cookstown v Lisnagarvey, 2.30pm, Steelweld Park; Pembroke v Monkstown, 2.30pm, Serpentine Avenue; YMCA v Three Rock Rovers, 2.30pm, Wesley College; Banbridge v Cork C of I, 2.45pm,
Day one extended reports
Cork C of I 1 (P Brownlow) Glenanne 1 (S Boucher)
Last season’s draw-masters Cork C of I – with 8 out of 18 last season – were at it again as Philip Brownlow’s final quarter goal saw them share the spoils with last year’s regular season champions Glenanne.
Amid a rain-soaked first half, chances were a premium with most of the play between the 23-metre lines and ended scoreless. The Glens started a much-faster paced second half on the front foot and they went ahead from a corner which Shannon Boucher slung home.
C of I fought back with Jonny Bruton’s first time slap – on his return to the club after a decade away in Australia and Dublin – went just wide. His crash ball then found its way to Philip Brownlow who was free to slot home the equaliser with 15 minutes to go.
They also won a couple of late corners which were well defended, leaving it a draw. The Glens handed debuts to Cedric Jakobi and Jonny McCormack.
Monkstown 6 (D Carson 2, J Lynch, A Ward, S Byrne, G Watkins) Annadale 2 (C Ruttle, P Caruth)
Monkstown produced a blistering fourth quarter performance to start their season in flying fashion, transforming a 1-1 half-time scoreline into a big 6-2 victory.
Dale started the stronger, drawing a couple of big blocks from David Fitzgerald from corners while captain David Cole charged down another shot. Kyle Good – on his return after a year out – almost finished off from Guy Sarratt’s long ball before Town went in front in the 12th minute. Sam Byrne played in Jason Lynch who managed to wriggle between three tackles and finish into the top corner.
The equaliser came within a minute when a long ball found former Monkstown man Peter Caruth and he lashed into the netting for 1-1. The second quarter saw corners awarded at both ends yielding saves off the line to keep the tie level.
The hosts, though, returned to the lead five minutes after the break when Davy Carson turned over the ball and passed to Gareth Watkins who carried through the middle before slipping to Geoff Cole and then on to Andrew Ward for a back post finish.
The tie remained in the balance at this stage but Monkstown soon pulled awat in the final quarter. Again it was a counter that saw them score, player-coach Watkins tackling before setting up Carson to reverse home. Carson then exchanged passes with Ross Quirke to score his second for 4-1 with 10 minutes to go.
Ward controlled an aerial and then found Byrne to finish off for the fifth. Former Three Rock and Wesley man Cameron Ruttle got one back on his debut with four minutes to go but Watkins got a great goal to close things out in the final minute, hitting the top corner with Carson again involved.
For Town, Rory Nichols and Aran Rooney both returned to the club after spells away while Dale welcomed Ryan Burgess, Ryan Getty, Andrew O’Hare and Ruttle.
Lisnagarvey 1 (A Williamson) Pembroke 2 (J Ryan, P Shanahan)
The much changed forces of Lisnagarvey and Pembroke saw the Dubliners raid Comber Road’s new smurf-turf for an opening day victory. Andy Williamson put Garvey in front just before the end of the first quarter when he turned in a dropping ball at the right post after an initial corner shot was charged down.
Matthew and Daniel Nelson had chances to extend the lead but Simon Thornton, particularly from a one on one with the former, saved superbly.
Pembroke equalised in the 27th minute from a ball worked down the right-hand side, leading to a Jack Ryan tap in amid a plethora of bodies. It remained that way to the break despite a close-run thing from Williamson slipping by the post.
The key goal came five minutes into the second half with Patrick Shanahan popping up to make it 2-1. Thornton continued his fine game to tip further chances around the post, including a final minute drag from Timmy Cockram to hold on to the three points.
Cookstown 7 (S Smyth 3, T Sloan 2, M Kerr, J Haycock) YMCA 1 (B Campbell)
YMCA got a taste of the challenge ahead for them as they shipped a heavy loss to the club that finished ninth in last year’s EYHL as Cookstown ran riot at Steelweld Park.
Michael Kerr’s low corner drag got the Co Tyrone side rolling before Matthew Rollins pumped into the circle for Timmy Sloan to get the key touch, 2-0 at the end of the first quarter. Stu Smyth’s drag-flick made it 3-0 at half-time, again thudding the backboard.
Mark Crooks’ sharp stickwork on the right baseline saw him weave the chance for Sloan to sweep in the fourth goal and another Smyth drag further piled on the pain. Ben Campbell got one back from a penalty stroke but final quarter efforts from Jack Haycock and Smyth’s hat-trick goal made for a torrid first game at the top level.
YM handed debuts to Herbie Fowler-Hudson, Ross Henderson, Cillian Hynes and Eoin Buttanshaw while Aaron Bailey lined out for the first game of his second spell at the club.
Banbridge 4 (J McKee, F Mills, J Moffett, E Magee) Three Rock Rovers 3 (M English 2, J Mullins)
Eugene Magee scored a dramatic last minute penalty corner to delight a sizeable crowd under the Saturday night lights at Havelock Park. It was one hell of a tie with Bann building a 3-0 lead only to be pegged back by a rousing Rovers comeback to level it at 3-3 with eight minutes to go.
Both sides had chances to win it in the endgame but it was Bann who snatched the crucial goal for the perfect start to their campaign. Jonny McKee got the home side’s first following sublime skill from Peter Brown in the 14th minute and they doubled the lead in the 24th minute when Magee played in Fraser Mills to fire past Shane O’Brien – deputising for Jamie Carr – for 2-0.
Three Rock had their chances but could not get their corner routine going with Luke Roleston making a number of super stops between the posts. Half-time saw a charity presentation for Air Ambulance and the home mood raised even further when Josh Moffett scored a superb individual goal.
But any thoughts of an easy ride were quickly put to bed as Mark English – in his first game since moving from Railway Union – scored twice in a minute and it was 3-2 with half an hour still to be played. A couple more corners were repelled by Roleston, keeping the narrow lead in tact until six minutes from the end when John Mullins tied things up at 3-3.
Ross Beattie was shown yellow for the hosts soon after but there was one last twist as Bann won a corner and Magee kept his nerve to score it for a fine win.