Cup goalfest early present for Irish game

 

Nets bulged as extravagantly as Christmas stockings on Saturday, when 45 goals were tucked away in the eight Leinster Senior Cup ties. The two sides with the strongest credentials, Pembroke Wanderers and Glenanne, both adapted quickly to playing on shale surfaces, going 3-0 up in the opening quarters to beat Suttonians and Carlow, respectively, 5-1.

The initial Cable & Wireless message from Carlow indicated that Dessie Farrell had notched a hat-trick for Glenanne, but a later transmission established that the Dublin footballer had scored just once - his first goal for the club - and that Paul Fitzpatrick and Stephen Butler were each twice on the target.

Thus Glenanne will be in sufficiently buoyant form to make a sturdy defence of the Neville Cup in the St Stephen's Day final against Avoca at Serpentine Avenue. Avoca tuned up with a 7-1 defeat of St Brendan's/Phoenix Park on Saturday and having already won the Stephen Doyle Trophy, remain distinctly competitive. They also have a 3-2 league win over Glenanne to their credit, so there is unlikely to be much mellowness about Friday's game.

The next significant championship match will bring the leaders, Pembroke, to Grange Road on January 3rd for a skirmish with Three Rock Rovers. There is no doubt that Rovers can play effectively when the spirit moves them - for example when they were 3-2 down to Railway Union early in the second half at Park Avenue before rallying to win, 5-3. Railway had taken the lead when Brendan Parsons stole away to earn a penalty stroke which was converted by Paul O'Brien. An equaliser soon fell to Gary Ringwood and just before the interval, the industrious Christian Judd, fed by Liam Canning, made it 2-1. Karl Swan, however, was quick to level matters and the buccaneering figure of Stewart O'Higgins, with notable support from Ger O'Brien, thumped home a corner.

Rovers, feeling that the Mills trophy should stay in their possession, started to move more purposefully. Ringwood put away their third goal, to be followed by one of the best surges of the game which finished with a well delivered strike by Gordon Elliott, and Robin Madeley sank a set-piece shot for number five.

Pembroke's goals at Sutton came from all the usual suspects as they enter the quarter-final stage as favourites for the province's league-cup double. Lesser lights joining them in the draw include Trinity, UCD and Portrane, as well as nippy Monkstown, for whom Justin Sherriff emerged as top marksman of the day with his hat-trick against YMCA.

Instonians stretched their lead at the top of the Ulster Senior League table to six points when they beat Cliftonville 3-1 ... and then learned that champions Lisnagarvey, their closest challengers, had dropped a point in a 1-1 draw at Mossley.Instonians have now won their first eight league matches of the season and already have been installed as red-hot favourites to take the title.