Lisnagarvey, YMCA and Monkstown all got off to winning starts in the men’s EY Hockey League while UCD and Glenanne shared the spoils as the elite competition returned to action with a bang.
Garvey looked in great shape to win the title last season before lockdown scuppered their chances but they made an impressive start when striking late to defeat reigning EY Champions Trophy holders Three Rock Rovers 4-2 at Comber Road.
The Ulster side led twice via goals from Ben Nelson – making it five goals in three games in September – but Ben Johnson and Peter Blakeney fought back both times for 2-2 going into the final quarter. James Lorimer, however, struck two corners for the victory.
Monkstown put on a great show both on the pitch and online as they live-streamed their 6-0 win over Corinthian with a four-camera and commentator set-up at the Merrion Fleet Arena.
It took just four minutes for Jeremy Duncan to open his account for the club from a penalty corner rebound while two Lee Cole drag-flicks and a Ryan Spencer strike put them 4-0 up at half-time. Further goals from Max Guilfoyle and Stephen Cole completed their victory.
Grant Glutz overcame an early penalty stroke miss to bag a hat trick for YMCA as they beat Annadale 3-0 at Wesley. The powerful striker applied a spin-flick to break the deadlock in the first half before killing off the game with a pair of rockets in the final quarter.
UCD, meanwhile, snatched a point late on against Glenanne with Guy Sarratt coming up trumps. He exchanged goals with Shannon Boucher to make it 1-1 at half-time before player-coach Shane O’Donoghue edged the Glens in front in the second half. Sarratt, though, created and scored the vital corner for a 2-2 result.
Banbridge against Pembroke was called off on Saturday morning due to a positive Covid-19 case in the Pembroke camp. Following the advice of the HSE, the club were advised not to travel.
Men’s EY Hockey League – week one results: Lisnagarvey 4 (B Nelson 2, J Lorimer 2) Three Rock Rovers 2 (B Johnson, P Blakeney); Monkstown 6 (L Cole 2, J Duncan, R Spencer, M Guilfoyle, S Cole) Corinthian 0; UCD 2 (G Sarratt 2) Glenanne 2 (S Boucher, S O’Donoghue); YMCA 3 (G Glutz 3) Annadale 0; Banbridge v Pembroke – off
October 3rd fixtures: Annadale v Monkstown, Strathearn, time TBC; UCD v YMCA, Belfield, 1pm; Glenanne v Banbridge, St Andrew’s, 1.30pm; Pembroke v Lisnagarvey, Serpentine Avenue, 2pm; Corinthian v Three Rock Rovers, Whitechurch Park, 5pm
Men’s EY Hockey League – day one extended reports
Lisnagarvey 4 (B Nelson 2, J Lorimer 2) Three Rock Rovers 2 (B Johnson, P Blakeney)
Two late James Lorimer penalty corners earned Lisnagarvey a big home win over Three Rock Rovers at Comber Road as their unbeaten run on the national stage was put under huge pressure. Ben Nelson twice gave them a lead before Ben Johnson and Peter Blakeney got it level going into the final stages but Garvey took their chances to start off the campaign with three points.
Nelson continued his goal-a-game September when he finished off from a baseline pull-back after a swift move down the right channel. Johnson equalised with a penalty corner drag-flick but Nelson restored the lead in the third quarter when he took a free in the 23m zone himself and broke through a couple of tackles before sliding in a shot on his reverse.
Ben Walker’s incisive run created the equaliser when he slipped the ball left to Peter Blakeney who swept first-time from the left of the circle to wrong-foot James Milliken. Rovers then had a couple of huge chances to go in front but Milliken denied Ross Canning brilliantly while a corner switch was also repelled.
Garvey held their nerve to provide a double-strike late in the game for a second successive week, backing up last weekend’s Irish Senior Cup success.
YMCA 3 (G Glutz 3) Annadale 0
Grant Glutz scored an opening day hat trick as YMCA recorded a big win over Annadale in a tussle between the sides that finished ninth and tenth last season. He had the chance to open the scoring just a couple of minutes when his drag-flick hit a body on the line; his stroke effort, however, was nonchalent in the extreme and the goalkeeper got down to save with his stick.
Dale had a couple of corners come to nought with Adam McAllister looking dangerous and Jakim Bernsden alert to a bouncing shot. Glutz broke the deadlock before the end of the first quarter from a corner second phase, a spin-flick after Ben Campbell’s initial shot bounced away.
Another Campbell ricocheted off the bar in the second quarter to leave the game at the minimum and it stayed that way through the third quarter despite a quarter of YM corners.
Ben O’Grady had to back-pedal to save a looper off the goal line before Andrew Meates contrived to put a huge chance wide after a smart move.
But the game was settled with the second in the final quarter when Glutz latched onto a loose ball 30 metres out. He had plenty to do still but weaved in between four defenders and struck open an openhand shot from the top D for 2-0. And the third arrived soon after when Dale got in a muddle in their own circle and the ball bounced to Glutz to hit in first time.
Monkstown 6 (L Cole 2, J Duncan, R Spencer, M Guilfoyle, S Cole) Corinthian 0
Monkstown eased to a comfortable victory over Corinthian, scarcely looking back from the moment Jeremy Duncan broke the deadlock in the fourth minute from a penalty corner. It was the perfect start to life in sky-blue for the Irish international in his first match back in Ireland for three years.
David Cole’s raking passes from centre-back through the middle were wreaking havoc and twice Town found themselves close to picking off the reds from such moves. The second came from an intercept which ended up with Duncan winning a corner that Lee Cole – another Irish star back from Belgium – whipped home.
Lee Cole’s brilliant first time pass from the right sideline at halfway created the third, Ryan Spencer again in behind the defence where he had time to slap past Charlie Henderson. Cole went high with his next corner shot for a 4-0 lead at half-time.
The reds came more into the tie in the second half but – after Duncan had one disallowed – they dropped further behind when another long ball was first timed by Nick Dee into the circle. Max Guilfoyle chipped the ball out of traffic and then fired home on his backhand. Stephen Cole completed the scoring eight minutes from the end via a stroke.
UCD 2 (G Sarratt 2) Glenanne 2 (S Boucher, S O’Donoghue)
Honours even from a scrappy battle at Belfield with UCD and Glenanne sharing four goals. The returning Stephen Dawson made two excellent saves early on to keep out Shane O’Donoghue from open play and then to deny Richard Couse.
Shannon Boucher did put the Glens in front when he wrong-footed the goalkeeper to score form a corner in the second quarter but that was countered by Guy Sarratt firing past Iain Walker right on the half-time whistle.
Player-coach O’Donoghue did get his goal with a gliding run through the defence and then a flick which went high into the net. But the defining moment came four minutes from the end when a Glens’ free deep in UCD territory was overturned for dissent.
Sarratt went on a mazy run which ended in a corner which the captain buried into the same spot as his first strike to make it 2-2.
Women’s EYHL & EYHL2
Catholic Institute and Railway Union produced a couple of sensational performances to land wins over sides who were in the top four of the women’s EY Hockey League before it succumbed to lockdown last term.
For Insta, their 2-0 success at Rosbrien was a first against UCD in a very long time as they scored two well-worked goals in the last 12 minutes. Aoife Hickey got the first following Ciara Moloney’s excellent break from left back opened the door for a nice spin and shot; Laura Foley then closed out the win after a smart give-and-go move down the right channel.
Railway were in the relegation playoff place before last season was halted with Loreto top of the table but that counted for little when the Sandymount side won 2-1 at Beaufort with Kate Lloyd getting both her side’s goals.
Sarah Hawkshaw was the creator both times, the first from a driving run through the middle, teeing up Lloyd to take it on her preferred backhand side. The other was a great pick-up on the baseline, giving Lloyd the chance to slap in first time. Hannah Matthews got a late one back from a penalty corner.
Old Alex got an almighty scare at Belfast Harlequins but ultimately held on for a 3-2 win at Deramore Park. Aine Connery and Sarah Robinson made it 2-0 at half-time before Nikki Evans stretched the lead to three. Natalie Barr and Julie Allison, however, set nerves jangling with a couple of goals to cut the gap significantly.
Pegasus bounced back from their Irish Senior Cup final loss last weekend with a stylish 2-0 win over Pembroke. Youngsters Niamh McIvor and Olivia Berry put them two to the good by half-time and that is how it stayed.
Women’s EYHL Division 1 – day one results: Belfast Harlequins 2 (N Barr, J Allison) Old Alexandra 3 (A Connery, S Robinson, N Evans); Catholic Institute 2 (A Hickey, L Foley) UCD 0; Loreto 1 (H Matthews) Railway Union 2 (K Lloyd 2); Pegasus 2 (N McIvor, O Berry) Pembroke 0; Muckross v Cork Harlequins – off
EYHL Division 2 – Pool A: Ards 3 (Z Malseed, K McKenna, A Benson) Corinthian 0; Trinity v UCC – off
Pool B: Queen’s 3 (J McMaster, R Quinn, A Jebb) NUIG 1 (M Corcoran); Monkstown v Cork C of I – off
October 3 fixtures: Cork Harlequins v Catholic Institute, Farmers’ Cross, 1pm; Muckross v Railway Union, Grange Road, 1pm; Loreto v Pegasus, Beaufort, 2.45pm; UCD v Belfast Harlequins, Belfield, 2.50pm; Pembroke v Old Alex, Serpentine Avenue, 4pm
Women’s EYHL Division One – day one reports
Loreto 1 (H Matthews) Railway Union 2 (K Lloyd 2)
Kate Lloyd’s double saw Railway Union stun Loreto as they raided Beaufort to win 2-1. Before lockdown, Railway sat in the relegation playoff place while Loreto were on top of the table but the Sandymount side appear refreshed with a new coach and some new players helping them get off to a flying start.
Railway started with intent, winning a corner and then seeing a Sarah Hawkshaw skip across goal just beyond Kate McKenna; Hawkshaw was also set through after a Loreto corner mishap but struck wide.
Loreto had two big chances, too, but they fell behind when Hawkshaw burst forward from midfield and delivered the ball to Lloyd in the circle. She switched to her preferred backhand side and rocketed in the first goal.
Ali Meeke’s sharp volley from a Siofra O’Brien snap-shot looped just over, keeping it at 1-0 at the break. Railway moved further in front in the third quarter with Hawkshaw again the instigator with a great pick-up to a bouncing ball on the baseline and she fed Lloyd to slap in at the near post.
Railway’s defence was solid and unyielding for much of the second half but Loreto did make for a spicy finish when a corner switch fell to Hannah Matthews who swept in from the left-top of the D. They tried the same corner again in the last three minutes but it only found a foot this time and the follow-up corner was crowded out and cleared.
Belfast Harlequins 2 (N Barr, J Dennison) Old Alexandra 3 (A Connery, S Robinson, N Evans)
Old Alex were given a huge scare by Belfast Harlequins but ultimately got all three points from their trip to Deramore Park, winning 3-2. It was the Dubliners’ more clinical touch in front of goal that proved decisive as it was their hosts who had the bulk of the chances in an entertaining contest.
The Belfast side had four decent opportunities to score through Jenna Watt (twice) Emma Uprichard and Julie Dennison in the opening 10 minutes.
But Alex punished their wastefulness six minutes into the second quarter when Aine Connery met a right wing cross and her first time shot trickled over the line after striking both posts.
The Leinster side doubled their lead from the penalty spot through Sarah Robinson on the stroke of half-time. And it was three in the second half when Nikki Evans finished off an incisive counter-attack in which fellow international Deirdre Duke had been instrumental.
Natalie Barr pulled one back from a narrow angle in the 47th minute and 10 minutes later Dennison reduced the deficit to 3-2 with a carbon copy.
Quins pummelled the Alex circle in the dying minutes but were unable to find the equaliser their spirited display perhaps merited.
Quins coach Phil Mills said: “I thought we played very well against an Alex side that will do well this season in my view but, unfortunately, we just couldn’t make the most of our chances.”
“But we will take a lot of positives out of the game and look forward to playing UCD in Dublin on Saturday.”
Catholic Institute 2 (A Hickey, L Foley) UCD 0
Aoife Hickey and Laura Foley netted a goal each in the closing 12 minutes to earn Catholic Institute a huge win over UCD to start their season in cracking fashion against the recently crowned Irish Senior Cup winners.
“Really pleased to get three points against a fit talented young team,” said coach Dave Passmore. “While UCD created more of the chances in the third period, our increased depth and improved fitness stood to us and we managed the game well in the closing phases which was something we struggled with in the early stages last season.”
Passmore was able to hand club debuts to ex-international goalkeeper Pam Smithwick and American duo Allison Smith and Kelsey Farkas and they had the edge in the early stages before UCD came into a bit more. They handed debuts to Eva Lavelle, Sophia Cole and Rachel Kelly and they began to get a greater hold on the tie with Michelle Carey and Hannah McLoughlin winning corners but to no avail.
The breakthrough came when Ciara Moloney surged forward from left back and fed into the centre of the D; Aoife Hickey’s clever run and first touch took her into space on the right and she struck with her second touch for 1-0.
And, in the final minutes, they clinched the game following some excellent approach work with Laura Foley’s give and go offering her the chance to slot home.
Pegasus 2 (N McIvor, O Berry) Pembroke 0
Youngsters Niamh McIvor and Olivia Berry struck the Pegasus goals as they put last week’s Irish Senior Cup final defeat behind them to start the EY Hockey League campaign on a winning note.
They controlled the pace of the game and, from their first short corner, converted a Shirley McCay strike with a deflection from Niamh McIvor, 1-0 after five minutes. Berry got the second in the second quarter following another sweet move in which Lucy McKee passed to McIvor down the right side and she crossed immediately for Berry to score on the volley.
The second half saw plenty of circle entries and a number of short corners but without conversion. Pembroke chased the game and worked hard until the end but it was Pegasus who secured the three points.
EYHL Division 2 round-up
Ards made a big statement on the opening day of EYHL Division 2 when they got the better of Corinthian 3-0. The reds had won all seven of their games before last season was called to a halt but they have started this season on the back foot.
Zara Malseed gave the Ulster side the lead in the eighth minute and they held that through to half-time with Naomi McKnight making some key saves. Katie McKenna’s goal five minutes into the second half was a key one and Ards were out of sight when Amy Benson scored from a penalty corner soon after.
In Pool B, Queen’s left it late before accounting for NUIG 3-1. Maebh Corcoran had the Galway side 1-0 up at half-time and it was all to play for at the three-quarter time break after Jessica McMaster levelled things up. Rebecca Quinn and Alyssa Jebb completed the comeback in the closing minutes.