Three Rock Rovers win Neville Cup final in penalty shoot-out

Goalkeeper Shane O’Brien the hero as victory snatched from the grasp of Pembroke

Three Rock Rovers 2 Pembroke 2 (TRR win 3-1 on shoot-out)

Shane O’Brien proved an unlikely hero for Three Rock Rovers as they somehow snatched the Neville Cup from Pembroke’s grasp at Serpentine Avenue on St Stephen’s Day.

The goalkeeper has been part of the club's fourth-string two seasons ago but he donned the pads for this competition this term in place of the rested Jamie Carr and Conor Quinn. He duly saved three times in a shoot-out - including from Olympian Kirk Shimmins - after a series of stops in normal time which ended 2-2.

Calm finishes from Conor Empey, John Mullins and Harry Morris saw Rovers edge the shoot-out 3-1 and land the title for the first time since 2007.


It was something of a steal, though, as Pembroke looked the stronger force for long stretches of the second half.

Both sides were much changed as Rovers rested a large number of first team players with Gareth Borland taking over coaching duties from Niall Denham who was in Wales.

Pembroke, meanwhile, could not draw upon a half dozen of their Munster players along with Belgian Cedric Mushiete.

As such, the first half took a while to find a shape and ended scoreless, both sides spurning penalty corner openings. The second was much livelier with O’Brien and David Kane central in keeping out waves of Pembroke attacks.

Against the run of play, Empey picked out the excellent John Mullins whose overlapping run and cross found its way into the goal off Mark Ingram.

Pembroke replied quickly with Cian Murphy scoring an excellent leveller with a high shot after O’Brien’s initial block. Keith O’Hare then put the host club in front with a high finish for 2-1 which looked to be more than enough to win the tie.

Rovers, though, snatched possession with 90 seconds to go wide on the right before Empey’s run was curtailed illegally by Alan Giles.

Ross Canning slotted the ensuing penalty stroke, sending the game to a shoot-out in which O’Brien produced the goods.

Three Rock Rovers: S O'Brien, P Blakeney, R Canning, C Empey, D Kane, H Morris, J Mullins, L Adams, H MacMahon, B McCrea, R McCollum, M Walker, P Lynch, A Flynn, K Mullins, A O'Regan

Pembroke: M Ingram, W Brownlow, K Crawford, K O'Hare, J Ryan, K Shimmins, A Sothern, H Spain, D Quinn, M Dowse, R McDonald, T Butler, M Treacy, B Schutte, I Cooke, A Giles.

Stephen Findlater

Stephen Findlater

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