Glenanne moved three points clear at the top of the men’s EY Hockey League table though things remain incredibly tight with Banbridge and Lisnagarvey just behind them with a game in hand.
For the Glens, they salvaged a 4-3 win in the very last minute from a Jonny McCormack touch from Joe Brennan’s cross to nick the win. Relegation-threatened Cookstown had led early on and then pegged the Glens back to 2-2 and 3-3 to push the leaders all the way.
In the big derby in Ulster, Lisnagarvey continued their excellent run of form to beat Banbridge at Havelock Park. First half goals from Andy Williamson and James Lorimer made the difference as Garvey led 2-0 for a long-time before Eugene Magee got one back in the dying moments.
At the bottom, YMCA made it two wins out of three to continue their move away from the drop-zone, getting the better of Cork C of I at Wesley. Grant Glutz and John Jermyn exchanged first half goals for 1-1 at half-time but Ross Henderson got the decisive finish – from a Gluzt assist – in the second period to nick a 2-1 result.
It moves YM up to eighth and above Cookstown while C of I ended the weekend in bottom spot. The understrength Munster side lost their second game of the weekend on Sunday 4-0 against Three Rock Rovers.
For Rovers, they closed the gap significantly to the top four places with six points out of six. They cut loose late in their tie on Saturday against Monkstown, winning 5-2.
Goals from play from Luke Madeley and Harry MacMahon built a 2-0 lead which Guy Sarratt countered. But further strikes from Madeley, Ben Walker and Mark English stretched out a comfortable final scoreline.
Pembroke, though, remain a couple of points ahead of them thanks to a 2-1 success at Annadale. Greg Chambers and the returning Andrew Shekleton put them in good shape before Andrew O’Hare got a Dale consolation with a minute to go.
Men’s EY Hockey League results
Saturday: Annadale 1 (A O’Hare) Pembroke 2 (G Chambers, A Shekleton); Banbridge 1 (E Magee) Lisnagarvey 2 (A Williamson, J Lorimer); Glenanne 4 (G Shaw, S Boucher, J McCormack) Cookstown 3 (M Kerr, D Crooks, P Thompson); Three Rock Rovers 5 (L Madeley 2, B Walker, M English, H MacMahon) Monkstown 2 (G Sarratt, R Quirke); YMCA 2 (G Glutz, R Henderson) Cork C of I 1 (J Jermyn)
Sunday: Three Rock Rovers 4 (H Morris, L Madeley, B Walker, J Hosking) Cork C of I 0
YMCA 2 (G Glutz, R Henderson) Cork C of I 1 (J Jermyn)
YMCA recorded a crucial victory in the survival race as they moved out of the bottom two with a battling win over Cork C of I at a wet and wild Wesley College.
With the weather making life difficult, penalty corners were proving the most effective method of attack in the first half. Grant Glutz gave the Y via a straight drag-flick after Andrew Jones won a corner in the first quarter. He arrowed another at the same target but it was saved off the line before CI fought back and were level when John Jermyn scored his sixth goal in seven days.
YM returned to the lead in the third quarter when Glutz played through to Ross Henderson in lots of space and he calmly finished to make it 2-1.
From there, C of I had five more corner chances but could not find the radar and the hosts held on for their second win of the season, lifting them to eight points.
Banbridge 1 (E Magee) Lisnagarvey 2 (A Williamson, J Lorimer)
First half goals from Andy Williamson and James Lorimer saw Lisnagarvey score a vital victory in the title race as they moved level on points with Banbridge. Both are three points back from Glenanne but have a game in hand, making for an exciting seven rounds ahead in the league.
Williamson broke the deadlock 22 minutes in before Lorimer added the second from a corner with half-time approaching. Bann got one back with just over a minute to go from Eugene Magee’s corner shot but the points were going up the road to Hillsborough.
The hosts had started the game well with the majority of the ball but Williamson’s goal came following a quick counter-attack. Lorimer then slotted a low drag-flick.
Again, Bann came forward in the second half and put Garvey under more pressure but Garvey made some crucial tackles in the final phases while James Milliken made a key triple save, keeping them out of range despite the late Magee goal.
Glenanne 4 (G Shaw, S Boucher, J McCormack) Cookstown 3 (M Kerr, D Crooks, P Thompson)
Jonny McCormack’s last minute winner saw Glenanne squeak out a 4-3 win over Cookstown to return to the head of the table on their own, eventually seeing off the Co Tyrone side.
Michael Kerr’s drag following a spin move beat Iain Walker to put the visitors 1-0 up after David Keogh had missed an early penalty stroke for the Glens. Glenanne then set about swapping the lead with a couple of corner goals, the first a Stephen Brownlow slip to Gary Shaw for 1-1 and then Shannon Boucher dragged in for 2-1.
Cookstown tied the game for the second time from a corner rebound from Daniel Crooks after a flurry of chances, 2-2 at half-time.
Richard Couse claimed the Glens third via a defensive stick but Cookstown kept coming back when Paul Thompson slapped home from a baseline pull-back.
But the Glens had the final say in the dying moments when Joe Brennan slapped across from the right flank for McCormack to tap in at the back post.
Three Rock Rovers 5 (L Madeley 2, B Walker, M English, H MacMahon) Monkstown 2 (G Sarratt, R Quirke)
A trio of fourth quarter goals saw Three Rock Rovers race away from Monkstown after a previously close fought contest as Grange Road as the hosts made Town pay for a couple of cards.
Defenders Luke Madeley and Harry MacMahon both scored from play to put Rovers into a 2-0 lead. The former strode out from the back and, after some initial skill, the pitch opened up for him and he ran 60 metres – regularly looking to offload – with the ball before pinging home by Gordon Clarke, deputising for the injured David Fitzgerald. MacMahon’s was the polar opposite, netting a rare goal from close range.
Guy Sarratt got one back 90 seconds before half-time from a corner and he was unlucky to see a reverse well saved by Jamie Carr to tie it up. But space started to become more available for Rovers as time wore on and they drew a number of good saves before going 3-1 up from a Madeley corner in the fourth quarter.
Town soon went down to nine and were punished when Kevin Mullins set up Ben Walker to flick in at close quarters. Harry Morris and Mark English were then left all alone in the 23 with just Clarke to eliminate, the latter doing the final honours.
Annadale 1 (A O’Hare) Pembroke 2 (G Chambers, A Shekleton)
Pembroke ended their mini-slide after back-to-back defeats to strengthen their place in the top four of the men’s EYHL. They went in front following a very well constructed move from a free on the right edge of the circle, working the ball back through both centre-backs and then to the left wing where a powerful cross was turned in by Greg Chambers.
It was 2-0 when Andreu Gomez Costa pumped in a sideline ball from the left which ricocheted into the path of Andrew Shekleton who slotted home with eight minutes to go.
Annadale got one back when Callum Robson nicked the ball on the 23 from a defensive slip. He rolled the ball right to Andrew O’Hare to calmly finish in the last minute but the points were gone at that stage.
Three Rock Rovers 4 (H Morris, L Madeley, B Walker, J Hosking) Cork C of I 0
Three Rock Rovers made it a six-point weekend as they beat Cork C of I 4-0 at Grange Road as C of I struggled in the absence of John Jermyn, Jonny Bruton and Alex Burns.
Harry Morris opened the scoring in the first five minutes from a penalty corner rebound before Ben Walker got the second in the second quarter, controlling at the back post before popping home after good work down the left.
Luke Madeley’s drag-flick extended the advantage to 3-0 at half-time. The volume of rain meant it was slow-going in the second half but the game was capped by an excellent Jody Hosking ghost-left and rocket reverse into the top of the goal with seven minutes to go.
The top three continued their march to the EY Champions Trophy playoffs with Loreto seeing off Ards, Pegasus accounting for Railway Union and UCD beating both Old Alex and Ards over the weekend.
For Loreto, the pace and energy of Sarah Torrans and Siofra O’Brien were vital factors as the former broke the deadlock in the first half of their tie in Londonderry Park before the latter finished off a 2-0 victory.
Pegasus produced an excellent first half to see off a dangerous Railway Union 3-1, Taite Doherty, Shirley McCay and Lucy McKee all scoring before half-time. Railway got one back late in the game from Hannah de Burgh Whyte but it was a frustrating weekend for the Park Avenue side.
A day later, they were 3-0 up against Pembroke but saw their game abandoned due to snow.
UCD, meanwhile, were 4-0 winners against Old Alex on Saturday with Hannah McLoughlin scoring a pair of drag-flicks in the success. A day later, they won their second game with Niamh Carey netting in the first half before Lena Tice’s touch made the game safe in a 2-0 result against Ards.
They remain in third place, eight points off the leaders Loreto but with a game in hand; they are four points back from Pegasus.
Cork Harlequins had an up-and-down weekend, dropping a couple of places when they fell 1-0 to Orla Macken’s penalty corner hit for Pembroke.
A day later, they scored three times in the first eight minutes en route to a 4-2 win over Belfast Harlequins in Cork with Rebecca Barry scoring twice. It saw them end the weekend back in fourth place.
Belfast Quins had won a day earlier 4-1 at Muckross to temporarily up three places as Jenna Watt scored a couple, ending with three for her weekend’s work.
Women’s EY Hockey League results
Saturday: Ards 0 Loreto 2 (S Torrans, S O’Brien); Muckross 1 (E Mathews) Belfast Harlequins 4 (J Watt 2, R Johnston, E Cutrona); Pegasus 3 (T Doherty, S McCay, L McKee) Railway Union 1 (H de Burgh Whyte); Pembroke 1 (O Macken) Cork Harlequins 0; UCD 4 (H McLoughlin 2, S Thomas, M Carey) Old Alexandra 0
Sunday: Cork Harlequins 4 (R Barry 2, J Murphy, E O’Leary) Belfast Harlequins 2 (R Johnston, J Watt); UCD 2 (N Carey, L Tice) Ards 0; Railway Union v Pembroke, abandoned due to snow
Ards 0 Loreto 2 (S Torrans, S O’Brien)
Loreto kept their winning run rolling at the top of the table as they overcame a testing tie with midfielders Sara Twomey, Niamh Small and Hayley Mulcahy all unavailable and Christina Hamill carrying an ankle injury.
They deployed Hannah Matthews in central midfield and created several good first half chances with Nicci Daly testing Naomi McKnight on number of occasions.
The Beaufort side went in front when Matthews won the ball in midfield and passed to Sarah Torrans who hit a lovely reverse through the goalkeeper at pace.
Ards, though, caused lots of problems with speed down both wings and went close to getting level from a corner hit which Liz Murphy got down well to save with her stick.
UCD 4 (H McLoughlin 2, S Thomas, M Carey) Old Alexandra 0
UCD produced a neatly packaged 4-0 win over Old Alex, scoring twice in each half at Belfield. Hannah McLoughlin got them off to a great start when she won a penalty corner which she powerfully dragged into the net.
McLoughlin sent another drag just wide with Abbie Russell close to getting a touch on it while Sophie Thomas went close a couple of times and two more corners went unconverted. They continued to boss the play and went 2-0 up when Sarah Patton went on a run and fired into the D where Michelle Carey got down low to finish.
Sophie Thomas got the third in the second half for her first official EYHL goal – she scored in the abandoned matcha against Muckross in midweek which was stricken from the record. And player of the match McLoughlin closed out the win in the closing minutes with another drag-flick for 4-0.
Muckross 1 (E Mathews) Belfast Harlequins 4 (J Watt 2, R Johnston, E Cutrona)
Belfast Harlequins jumped from eighth to fifth thanks to their fourth win of the season as they beat Muckross 4-1 in Donnybrook. Rachel Johnston’s corner in the 13th minute gave them the perfect start in the first quarter with Emilia Cutrona backing her effort up in the second for a 2-0 half-time lead.
Jenna Watt finished off amid a goalmouth scramble for the third before Emma Mathews pulled one back from play while Marianne Fox also saved a stroke during this phase as Muckross threatened a comeback.
Watt, though, grabbed her second 30 seconds into the final quarter to kill off any hopes of a big revival.
Pegasus 3 (T Doherty, S McCay, L McKee) Railway Union 1 (H de Burgh Whyte)
Pegasus kept the pressure on Loreto with a comfortable 3-1 win over Railway Union at the Dub.The result leaves the Belfast team four points off the pace but with a game in hand after Loreto defeated Ards 2-0.
Pegasus made a blistering start to the game and were 3-0 up at half-time as Railway seldom looked likely to repeat their big win over Belfast Harlequins on their last visit north.
Ireland World Cup silver medallist Shirley McCay set up the opener in the seventh minute providing Taite Doherty with the perfect pass to fire home on her backhand. McCay made it 2-0 14 minutes later when she rifled home a penalty corner to put Pegasus firmly in control.
Lucy McKee added number three in the 27th minute when she shot home from close range after a good move down the left flank. Eimear Lucey had Railway’s first chance shortly before the break but home keeper Megan Todd got down well to save. It was closely contested in the second half as the Dubliners recovered from that nightmare start forcing Todd into several fine stops.
They deservedly pulled one back when Hannah de Burgh Whyte scored from a 64th minute set-piece, firing low into the corner of the net from a switch to the left.
Pembroke 1 (O Macken) Cork Harlequins 0
Orla Macken’s straight strike from the first penalty corner of the tie proved the only difference as Pembroke rose two places and back into fourth place in the table.
That came in the ninth minute when Pembroke were in the ascendancy, forcing some good stops from Becky Maye. Quins settled into the game after that, winning a couple of corners that were deflected away by the corner defence.
Rebecca Barry and Emily O’Leary also went close in the third quarter and they won a final minute penalty corner but the chance was lost at the top to see Pembroke retain the points and make a big leap up.
Sunday: Cork Harlequins 4 (R Barry 2, J Murphy, E O’Leary) Belfast Harlequins 2 (R Johnston, J Watt)
Cork Harlequins did the double over their Belfast rivals as a blistering first quarter saw them bounce back from Saturday’s defeat and end the weekend’s action in second place.
It was a start delayed by the rain but the Cork side did not hang about when it did get going with Rebecca Barry firing home from a break into the D. It was 2-0 after five minutes when Jane Murphy scored from the next attack, rebounding off an initial save.
And with just eight minutes gone, Barry had her second following a great run and cut-back from Emily O’Leary. Rachel Johnston pulled one back in the 11th minute from a corner but the Cork side kept coming and were 4-1 up with barely 20 minutes gone, Barry this time setting up O’Leary to lift home her finish.
After that flurry of early goals, it remained that way until deep into the third quarter when Jenna Watt during a spell of Belfast pressure with a corner deflection. And they had further set pieces in the last quarter but Cork stayed resolute in defence to see out the result.
UCD 2 (N Carey, L Tice) Ards 0
UCD completed a six-point weekend with a second clean sheet to boot as Niamh Carey and Lena Tice goals saw them beat Ards 2-0. After an even first quarter, UCD went in front in the second from a move started by Michelle Carey, winning a corner which her twin sister got on the end of.
Both sides had their moments but could not advance the score while the third quarter was also very even. The game-breaking second goal came with 10 minutes remaining when Hannah McLoughlin’s ball into the D was deflected in by Tice. The students closed out the tie the stronger from there to make it a good weekend.
They sit third, eight points off leaders Loreto with a game in hand, four points back from Pegasus.