Three Rock Rovers top the table thanks to comfortable win over UCD

Banbridge move into the top four courtesy of their 3-2 success against Monkstown

The men's EY Hockey League signed off for the Christmas break in breathtaking fashion with three sides producing huge comebacks while the leadership changed hands for the fourth successive round of action.

The upshot is Three Rock Rovers lead the table going into the new year thanks to their comfortable 6-0 win over bottom side UCD, with Ross Canning and Ali Empey scoring twice each.

All the major drama was elsewhere, however, with each of the other games ending 3-2. Both Glenanne – leaders on Saturday morning – and Lisnagarvey had previously held top spot and they played out a rip-roaring affair at Comber Road.

The Glens led twice with Clive Kenendy and Gavin Gibney edging them in front before two goals in a minute turned the tide. Peter McKibbin's penalty stroke was quickly followed by an effort from the prolific Ben Nelson to snag an important 3-2 lead.

Both goalkeepers – James Milliken for Garvey, David Lawless for Glenanne – were outstanding in the contest as not further goals came in the final quarter. Glenanne drop to third while Garvey move up to second as a result.

Banbridge moved into the top four for the first time courtesy of their back from the dead 3-2 success against Monkstown. They trailed 2-0 deep into the third quarter to goals from Davy Carson and Jeremy Duncan, but stormed back into contention thanks to Chris Curry and Owen Magee strikes.

And they won it in the final minute when Jonny McKee popped up at the back post to finish off an outstanding team goal to make it 3-2.

At the bottom Pembroke had the chance to jump from the relegation zone to the playoff places if they could beat YMCA, such is the tight-knit nature in that part of the table. And they looked well placed to do so when Cillian Hynes and Julian Dale put them two clear.

But Adam Walker got the Y up and running and Sam Hyland equalised early in the fourth quarter. That set up a grandstand finish in which Ross Henderson snatched the winner, like Banbridge, in the closing minute.

Back match

The league now goes on a break until the new year, with Corinthian hosting Annadale in their back match on January 29th with the rest of the teams hitting the turf a week later for round 11.

Elsewhere, a debut win for the Irish Under-21 indoor side proved elusive in Porto as they fell to five defeats in their first ever appearance in the EuroHockey Championship II competition.

Their inexperience showed at times but they still showed plenty of ability for the short format which Ireland have only recently started entering international sides.

On day one they led 3-0 and 6-3 at times against Croatia but lost structure in the closing stages to fall 9-7, missing a stroke which would have made it 8-8 with two minutes to go.

Against Denmark they were undone 6-5 in their last game, denied an equaliser by barely a second as Craig Mackay slotted a would-be equaliser just after the final hooter sounded.

Oliver Kidd ended with 11 goals in the tournament, second highest in the tournament.

Stephen Findlater

Stephen Findlater

Stephen Findlater is a contributor to The Irish Times writing about hockey

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