Lisnagarvey are very much in the box seat going into the last week of the men’s EY Hockey League season after they dismantled Monkstown in the second half at Comber Road on Saturday.
Town had started the day in second place and impressed in the early stages, taking the lead via a Lee Cole penalty corner as they looked to extend their six-game winning streak.
But Garvey have also been in breathtaking form in recent weeks, and they got back level via Troy Chambers before half time and the forward turned on the style in the second half. He ended up with a hat-trick from a wonderful performance, while Mark McNellis thumped in another and Matthew Nelson finished off too to make it 5-1.
The only side who can now mathematically catch Garvey is Three Rock Rovers who were 4-2 winners over YMCA. Ryan Spencer scored first and last on the day, while Ali Empey made a big impact in his first game of 2022; Rovers built a 2-0 lead before being pegged back level in the second half only to net the last two goals.
They have five points to make up with two games left, starting with a Wednesday night date against Glenanne before facing Monkstown on Saturday. They need to win both and hope Garvey falter against Banbridge.
At the bottom it is now a straight battle between Corinthian and Pembroke to try and avoid relegation after both lost on day 17 of the season.
The reds – shy Peter Caruth, Robbie Clarke and Ben Murphy – were undone 5-2 by the Glens, for whom Shannon Boucher and Shane O'Donoghue both scored twice.
Pembroke fell 3-2 to Annadale with the Ulster side securing their safety into the bargain. It was built around three goals in the first 22 minutes as Adam McAllister, Spencer Pinion and Tom Robson all struck for Dale.
Pembroke got a couple back via Cillian Hynes and Alan Sothern, but they could not find an equaliser. They sit ninth with one game to go, needing to beat already relegated UCD and then hope Corinthian get nothing from their game with YMCA.
Banbridge edged out UCD in the other game 3-2, keeping alive their hopes of landing a top two place and a direct passage to the EY Champions Trophy semi-finals.
The first half was even with Josh Filgas and Jay Menelaou for the students countering goals from Jonny McKee and Luke Witherow to make it 2-2. David Finlay got the winner four minutes into the second half.
The line-up for the promotion playoffs in EYHL Division 2 was also confirmed. Railway Union came from behind to beat Cork C of I 3-2 at Garryduff to top Pool 1, holding off the challenge of Instonians who were 4-0 victors against Rathgar.
Clontarf produced a brilliant 6-1 win away win over Kilkeel, with David Vincent getting a hat-trick, handing them top spot in Pool 2.
Cookstown, meanwhile, won the key showdown with Bandon 2-1 with first-half goals from Max Anderson and Michael Kerr proving the difference.
It means Cookstown and Railway go straight through to the playoff semi-finals while Instonians, Clontarf, Cork Harlequins and Bandon are in the quarter-final phase.
EY Hockey League: YMCA 2 (G Glutz, A Meates) Three Rock Rovers 4 (R Spencer 2, E Jennings, A Empey); Lisnagarvey 5 (T Chambers 3, M McNellis, M Nelson) Monkstown 1 (L Cole); Annadale 3 (A McAllister, S Pinion, T Robson) Pembroke 2 (C Hynes, A Sothern); Glenanne 5 (S O'Donoghue 2, S Boucher 2, R Couse) Corinthian 2 (A Sutton, C Futcher); UCD 2 (J Menelaou, J Filgas) Banbridge 3 (J McKee, L Witherow, D Finlay)
EYHL Division 2 Pool 1: Cork C of I 2 (R Sweetnam 2) Railway Union 3 (M English 2, A McGregor); Rathgar 0 Instonians 4 (S Kelso 3, J Kidd)
Pool 2: Kilkeel 1 (J Aiken) Clontarf 6 (D Vincent 3, J Mullins 2, W Eickholt)
Pool 3: Cookstown 2 (M Anderson, M Kerr) Bandon 1 (R Smyth); Portrane 4 (M Madsen 2, D Graham, S Graham) Mossley 1 (J Robinson)