Cole’s late winner steers Monkstown in to last four
Semi-final places look settled ahead of last weekend of league action
Lee Cole of Monkstown and Stuart Smyth of Cookstown tussle during their Men’s Irish Hockey League game at Carryduff, Co Down. Photograph: Presseye/ Inpho
Barring some final round goal frenzies, the final four for the Irish Hockey League looks to be set in place following the weekend’s action.
Lee Cole celebrated his first senior international call-up in by confirming Monkstown’s path to the semi-finals with a last gasp winner against Cookstown.
He struck two minutes from the end of their date in Carryduff after Andrew Smyth cancelled out Davy Carson’s early goal.
It continued the sky-blues’ superb recent run, making it seven wins on the bounce and meaning they are confirmed a place at Grange Road for the finals weekend.
For Cookstown, the 2-1 setback did mean they picked off a losing bonus point, one which could be vital to their chances. It means that they can afford to draw against Pembroke to advance in round five.
Annadale are best placed to catch them should the Co Tyrone side falter after they defeated Cork Harlequins 3-1 with Matthew Allister and William Edgar – another of the new international call-ups – scoring second half goals to round off the win.
It leaves Dale three points off the playoff places and they will need to run up a win over Monkstown to have any chance of advancing.
Leinster champions Pembroke beat Instonians 4-0 with Alan Sothern netting a double to pass the 50-goal mark for the season. But they have fairly forlorn hopes of progressing, needing a five-goal win over Cookstown next week to have any chance.
In Pool B, Banbridge’s comfortable 2-0 success over Railway Union saw them nail down a semi-final place with a week to spare as Stephen Dowds netted his 40th goal of the season so far and Dane Ward sealed the win.
Of the chasers, Lisnagarvey look comfortable in second place with a losing bonus point all they need from their last outing. That is because they picked off a 3-1 win over Glenanne in Serpentine Avenue as they had a bit to spare over their Tallaght rivals.
YMCA are the only side that can catch Garvey in second place and so will have ample motivation when the two meet next weekend in Coolnafranky. Poland international Krystian Makowski and Stephen Parker – against his former club – struck twice each in a 4-2 win over Cork C of I.
Should they beat Garvey by three goals next time out, the Dublin side can snag an unlikely place in the playoffs.