Lisnagarvey powered their way to the semi-final of the Irish Cup at Park Avenue last Saturday defeating Railway Union by 6 goals to 3.
This was a high quality performance by a team which is rapidly growing in stature as the season progresses.
Welcoming back their five Irish squad members after their long training trip to South Africa, Garvey were able to field their strongest team for some time and it was quickly obvious that Railway had a problem on their hands with the speed and slick transfer of the ball from the first whistle.
However, the first opening was created by the home side when they shot past the post in the 5th minute but a minute later Mikey Watt for Garvey showed his pace down the right setting up Neil Glassey but the mid fielder also put his effort past the upright.
Railway replied with a half chance in the 11th minute but the ball was cleared while a superb Timmy Cockram’s cross in the 12th minute went untouched close to the Railway goal.
Seconds later Garvey forced their first penalty corner after good work from Sean Murray and Matthew Nelson but Cockram’s drag flick was well parried by O’Keefe, however, seconds later Garvey did break the seal.
This time it was Nelson who set up Sean Murray on the right of the circle and his shot went across the keeper into the far left hand corner of the net.
Garvey’s second goal came in the 20th minute when the Nelson brothers combined; Daniel gave Matthew the chance to score from a similar position to Murray’s and he made no mistake with his well placed drive.
Railway again showed their resilience by coming back with a goal in the 22nd minute when a shot was deflected past Garvey keeper John Tormey giving him little chance of making a save and the home side were well back in the match.
Garvey were still in control of the mid field and their continued possession gave Matthew Nelson and Daniel Buser shooting chances but both were repelled by keeper O’Keefe.
Just before the half time interval, Garvey stretched their lead to 3-1 with a fine goal from Neil Glassey after Mickey Watt had stripped the Railway defence with his pace down the right flank leaving the visitors in charge of a highly competitive game with a two goal cushion after 35 minutes.
The match was keenly contested for the next 10 minutes but in the 46th, Garvey again struck through the pace of Mickey Watt; he worked his way down the right before setting a goal ‘on a plate’ for Daniel Buser who only had to guide the ball home from close range.
With a 4-1 lead, Garvey were now well in command of the tie but again, Railway did not give up the fight and in the 48th minute they forced another penalty corner and after some debate they were awarded a goal although many thought the ball came off the stick of James Lorimer before entering the net.
The goal stood and it gave Railway hope of another come back but in the 51st minute that was scotched when Garvey grabbed a fifth goal.
It came through the great work of Sean Murray who danced through the Railway defence and gave Matthew Nelson the chance to score his second goal of the game and the young striker made no mistake with his shot from 5 metres taking the score line to 5-2.
The speed of Garvey’s transfer of the ball gave their opponents little chance of gaining the necessary possession in the final 15 minutes of the game and Garvey totally deserved their 6th and final goal of the afternoon in the 65th minute when a great move involving Jonny Bell, Mark McNellis and Mikey Watt gave Timmy Cockram the chance to get on the score sheet.
Railway had their last say in the game in the 69th minute with their third goal but by that time the game was won by a Garvey team which reached new heights with their skills and fitness and will be looking forward to the semi-final draw with some relish after this performance.
They will face one of the three Dublin teams left in the competition, Glenanne, Three Rock Rovers and Monkstown all qualified last weekend and a ‘mouth-watering’ semi-final draw awaits the four remaining high quality teams.
This Saturday Garvey resume their quest for the EYHL title with a ‘crunch’ game against second placed Monkstown.
The last time the two sides met was back in October when Monkstown gave Garvey a lesson at Comber Road winning convincingly by 5 goals to 2.
Garvey have vastly improved since then and after their recent EYHL results they will be better placed to face the excellent Monkstown team.
With ten of the current Irish squad members playing, a really top quality match is expected at Rathdown School with a draw being a distinct possibility and that result would not be refused by Garvey.
The match starts at 4pm and could prove to be the game of the league race.
The Garvey squad for Saturday is as follows:
Jonny Bell (capt), John Tormey, Paul Gleghorne, James Lorimer, Richard Arneill, Steven Arbuthnot, Daniel Buser, Sean Murray, Ryan Getty, Neil Glassey, Timmy Cockram, Andy Williamson, Daniel Nelson, Matthew Nelson, Michael Watt, Mark McNellis, Paul Ritchie, James Milliken.