Banbridge’s spectacular win proves talent still abundant in Hockey League

Co Down side outclass Three Rock Rovers as Pembroke get the better of Lisnagarvey

  Eugene Magee’s last-minute drag-flick gave Banbridge a 4-3 victory over Rovers. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Eugene Magee’s last-minute drag-flick gave Banbridge a 4-3 victory over Rovers. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

While fears exist over the quality of this year’s men’s EY Hockey League due to the volume of talent departing to foreign shores, Banbridge’s spectacular 4-3 win over Three Rock Rovers suggests there is still plenty of quality around.

It is probably linked to the fact the two have lost less than most with nine full internationals on show under the Saturday night lights, illuminating the newly laid turf at Havelock Park.

Olympian Eugene Magee won it with a last-minute drag-flick for the 2017 league champions, a statement win over the reigning Irish Senior Cup and Champions Trophy holders.

Bann had looked to be flying to an easy win when John McKee and Fraser Mills’ first-half goals were augmented by a sublime Josh Moffett strike 30 seconds after the break.

Rovers, though, had drawn a slew of saves from Luke Roleston and two goals in a minute from Mark English – on debut following his move from Railway Union – made it 3-2 with half an hour to go.

John Mullins tied it with five minutes left and Rovers had a couple of chances in a rip-roaring finale but Bann – despite Ross Beattie’s sin-binning – summoned one last chance for Magee to win it.

Defied

Pembroke defied the departures of Kirk Shimmins and Alan Sothern to Belgium and Mark Ingram to the Netherlands to beat Lisnagarvey – themselves having four players now abroad – 2-1 on the Comber Road turf.

Monkstown are without key midfielder Stephen Cole this term following his move to a pro contract with Oree in Belgium but the return of Kyle Good after a year away has given them real menace up front.

They blew Annadale away in the closing quarter to record a 6-2 success. It was 1-1 at half-time with former Town striker Peter Caruth levelling matters but goals in the last 15 minutes from Davy Carson, Andrew Ward, Sam Byrne and player-coach Gareth Watkins gave the scoreline an emphatic look.

Glenanne’s league title defence was stymied by draw-masters Cork C of I – they drew eight of 18 matches last year – sharing a 1-1 draw at Garryduff. The Glens will miss the influential Shane O’Donoghue who is now with Dragons in Belgium while C of I’s top scorer from play last season Julian Dale is also in the Belgian league.

YMCA, meanwhile, got a serious culture shock in their first EYHL game, losing 7-1 to Cookstown – who only escaped relegation via a playoff – with Stu Smyth scoring a hat-trick.

Men’s EY Hockey League: Cork C of I 1 (P Brownlow) Glenanne 1 (S Boucher); Monkstown 6 (D Carson 2, J Lynch, A Ward, S Byrne, G Watkins) Annadale 2 (C Ruttle, P Caruth); Lisnagarvey 1 (A Williamson) Pembroke 2 (J Ryan, P Shanahan); Cookstown 7 (S Smyth 3, T Sloan 2, M Kerr, J Haycock) YMCA 1 (B Campbell); Banbridge 4 (J McKee, F Mills, J Moffett, E Magee) Three Rock Rovers 3 (M English 2, J Mullins)

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