With 26 goals across five matches, the men’s EY Hockey League returned with drama a plenty. Here’s the round-up of the first day of action!
Men’s EY Hockey League – day one round-up
Annadale 3 (R Davidson, O McElhinney, D Tremlett) Corinthian 3 (C Futcher 2, D Howard)
Both Corinthian and Annadale were left to reflect on whether it was a point gained or a two points lost from a topsy-turvy tie in which both sides held the lead only to be pegged back.
For Dale, bolstered by the return of Callum and Michael Robson and the arrival of Tim Cross, they were up and running when Robbie Davidson broke the deadlock in the 24th minute. That came from a pitch-length counter-attack from a Corinthian corner, Davidson popping up in front of Simon Thornton to slot home.
The Ulster side were two to the good four minutes later, this time another of their additions for this campaign – Owen McElhinney – guiding home a crash ball to make it 2-0.
The reds, though, responded well and were back in the mix when Chad Futcher netted a debut goal from a corner, the South African international whipping home in impressive fashion. It remained 2-1 until the final quarter when Futcher grabbed his second from mid-circle.
And the reds looked on course for the victory when Davy Howard scored from the penalty spot after a physical challenge wide on the right of the circle. But Dale kept battling and the Robson brothers worked the opening, Michael feeding Callum on the his way down the left channel; the latter’s reverse stick cross turned in by Tremlett.
Glenanne 2 (S O’Donoghue, J McCormack) Lisnagarvey 1 (J Lorimer)
Glenanne produced an excellent first performance of the season to beat off a fancied Lisnagarvey at St Andrew’s. The prolific Shane O’Donoghue opened the scoring in the second quarter from play and that lead was augmented in the second half by Jonny McCormack before Garvey got a lifeline with nine minutes to go via a James Lorimer penalty corner.
Early on, the Glens were thankful to goalkeeper David Lawless who made some excellent point blank saves while Ben Nelson and James Corry could not find the target with great chances. O’Donoghue’s opening goal came direct from a free-in, dribbling into the circle and then flipping the ball over a stick before batting in the chance.
His side had a trio of corner chances repelled before Lawless also came to the fore when his defence were unable to clear under pressure from Nelson. He did have the ball in the net in the third quarter with a brilliant piece of ball juggling to an overhead into the circle – after an umpire’s discussion, the goal was disallowed.
Kevin Venter cleaned a corner from the goalmouth to keep the slender lead intact and they went up the field and doubled the advantage soon after. Shannon Boucher took a quick sideline ball, got it to Gavin Gibney whose cross was turned in by McCormack.
Lorimer got one back with a rocket of a shot and Garvey piled on the pressure in the closing minutes but Glenanne defended their circle superbly to hold on for the points.
Monkstown 1 (G Cole) Banbridge 1 (Ph Brown)
Geoff Cole’s excellent goal four minutes from time saw Monkstown snatch a share of the spoils at Rathdown against Banbridge after a high octane battle between two sides who will fancy their chances at the playoff places this term.
Cole was at the back post to turn in Jazze Henry’s baseline cross following a patient move from front to back which went perfectly through the lines before finding the opening down the left.
It cancelled out Philip Brown’s powerful effort, following up from a blocked corner chance from mid-circle for 1-0 in the third quarter. It was a deserved lead for Banbridge who had most of the first half chances, only to be denied by some excellent Dave Fitzgerald stops while two other big chances flashed across the face of goal.
Luke Roleston was similarly strong on the half-time hooter to tip away a Guy Sarratt drag-flick. As time wore on, Bann looked to be controlling proceedings well with Eugene Magee deployed in a sweeper role and they went ahead from their fifth corner of the game.
Monkstown, though, pushed on in the closing minutes with Lee Cole brilliantly denied an equaliser by Roleston at close quarters just before the vital goal from his younger brother.
UCD 2 (S Walker, S Byrne) Three Rock Rovers 5 (A Empey 4, R Spencer)
Ali Empey produced a spectacular set of four goals to mark his return to Three Rock Rovers in style, earning against the points against the club he played for last season. It was another one of the new arrivals at Grange Road who opened the deadlock when Ryan Spencer got on the end of a superb interception and crash ball from Jody Hosking.
Sam Walker equalised from UCD’s second corner with a diving touch to Harry Lynch’s swept ball into the danger zone. Both were former Rovers players lining out against their siblings, Walker against older brother James, Lynch against younger brother Alex with Peter also in UCD colours for good measure.
Empey put Rovers back in front before half-time, peeling left before turning right to a ball to the top of the D, slamming home on his open side. His next came in the third quarter, this time peeling left and flipping onto his reverse and unleashing a rocket into the roof of the net.
UCD were level with a very sharp piece of work from Sam Byrne but the game was put out of reach when Empey pinched the ball off the last defender and swept home from the top of the circle. And he tipped in a handy rebound from Fred Morris’s shot to complete the victory.
YMCA 5 (R Henderson 3, H McCarthy, M Walker) Pembroke Wanderers 3 (A Sothern 2, J Dale)
YMCA carried on where they left off 12 months ago, making it four wins in succession between this term and the short-loved 2020/21 campaign as Ross Henderson’s hat trick propelled them to victory over Pembroke.
In a cagey first quarter, the visitors could not make the best of three penalty corners but the game burst spectacularly into life in the second phase with five goal. A quick break from Fionn Marriott down the right side was followed by a hard, bobbly ball into the circle to Ross Henderson who controlled and finished very well.
Pembroke hit back immediately through Alan Sothern as he waltzed into D to score the equaliser and he added another a few minutes later from a stroke after Julian Dale was denied by a sliding tackle.
But the Y had the lead for a second time just before half-time. First off, Henderson picked up another long ball into the D behind the back of the defence and applied a great scoring moment for 2-2.
Then another breakaway down the right saw Matt Walker making a tackle in his own 25 and passing to Sam Hyland. Walker continued his run and Hyland weighted an overhead to him perfectly, picking it up at the endline where he pulled the ball back to Harry McCarthy to finish off the goal of the day.
Walker went himself for the fourth goal in the third quarter to make it 4-2, smashing home from the centre of the D from breaking ball. Henderson completed his hat trick after an excellent attacking move instigated by Ben Stewart on his first team debut.
Julian Dale pulled one back from a corner drag to make it 5-3 and a YM yellow soon after kept things interesting for a spell but the hosts saw out the closing 10 minutes to earn the spoils.