Lisnagarvey made to battle

 

Men's Hockey/Irish Senior Cup final: Ulster hockey of the highest standard yielded a full-blooded Irish Senior Cup final at Belfield yesterday when Lisnagarvey defeated the combative holders Instonians 3-2, to capture the trophy for the 23rd time.

Neil Cooke fired Instonians in front after five minutes but Lisnagarvey responded strongly for Steven Arbuthnot, Jonathan Bloomfield and Tim Cockram, with a flamboyant reverse-stick shot, to make it 3-1 at the interval.

Lisnagarvey, while counter-attacking menacingly through Mark Raphael, survived a good deal of pressure, notably from Mark Wainwright and Michael Watt, in the second half. Indeed, they were relieved to have the margin reduced only seven minutes from the final hooter when Mark Irwin dextrously set up Julian Lewis to score.

In the end, Errol Lutton emerged as the foremost figure in the Lisnagarvey resistance while Paddy Brown was equally effective at the back for Instonians.

Outstanding goalkeeping by Paddy Grimes and especially clinical defending by the captain, Roger Martin, earned Banbridge II a remarkable 2-1 victory over Cork Harlequins II in the Irish Junior Cup final on Saturday.

Harlequins darted into the lead after three minutes through Paul Dawson from a neatly executed short corner but although the set-piece tally ultimately reached 14-2, neither Grimes nor Martin (with crisp clearances off the line from Philip O'Driscoll and Philip McLaughlin) could subsequently be beaten. So, goals poached at close range by Dane Ward and Mark Evans in the sixth and 16th minutes left Banbridge as winners of the trophy for the sixth time.

Harlequins, victors only in 1999 from six appearance in the final, must rue the absence of a drag flicker, for the performances, notably, of Rob Hobbs, Lee d'Alton and David Lombard, deserved a different outcome.

Instead it was a day of double celebration for Banbridge as the first XI brought Annadale's three-season unbeaten run to an end, to finish second in the Ulster Senior League. Thus, the Co Down club will now meet Aer Lingus in the All-Ireland championship quarter-finals while it seems Glenanne will be obliged to tackle Harlequins.

While Aer Lingus and Glenanne have finished level on points in the Leinster League, apparently second spot goes to Aer Lingus - proudly reaching elite circles for the first time - on the basis of matches won (12 to 11) even if Glenanne have a better goal difference (+21 to +15).

An interesting statistic is that although Trinity finished second-last and must face UCD in a relegation-promotion play-off, they registered the most goals (57).

Avoca, back in the premier division, enjoyed their jour de fete on Saturday when the Olympian Jimmy Kirkwood was a celebrity player-guest. Education Minister Mary Hanafin performed the official opening of the new astroturf pitch as well as announcing that Newpark School was to have a complete revamp.

LISNAGARVEY: D Williamson; B Waring, I Davidson, E Lutton (capt), J Bloomfield; M Raphael, M Robinson, S Arbuthnot; P Stirling, I Steen, T Cockram. Subs: M Tumilty, J Gray, M Lappin.

INSTONIANS: N Skillen; N Cooke, P Brown, A Lewis, T Taylor; C Kennedy, M Wainwright, J Lewis; C Kirk, A Cousins, M Irwin. Subs: M Watt, S Reid.

Umpires: G Quail and C Porter.

BANBRIDGE II: P Grimes; S Dawson, S Forbes, R Martin (capt), J Burns; P Scott, I Livingstone, M Evans; D Reay, B McCandless, D Ward. Subs: S Irvine, C McKnight, S McCafferty, M Dowds.

CORK HARLEQUINS II: C Daunt; P O'Driscoll, P Chambers, R Hobbs, L d'Alton; C Harte, D Lombard, R Leonard; P Dawson, K Deasy (capt), P McLaughlin. Subs: S Teap, D Deady, G Todd, I Bateman.

Umpires: G Conn and R Johnston.