Lisnagarvey completed their incredibly successful season at Havelock Park on Sunday when they defeated Banbridge by 3 goals to 1 in the EY Champions Trophy final.
Garvey now qualify as Ireland’s top place representatives in next season’s European Hockey League.
In front of a very good support, Garvey were comfortable winners and took only 10 minutes to grab the vital opening goal.
Following an injury to ace mid fielder Sean Murray in the 8th minute, Garvey forced their first penalty corner and from the resulting drag flick and slick interplay, Mikie Watt got a deft deflection and the ball was past Gareth Lennox before he could react.
As expected, Banbridge responded quickly in the 18th minute by forcing a penalty stroke from their first penalty corner.
Stephen Dowds made no mistake with the stroke, but before the Banbridge support could celebrate the equaliser, Garvey had slotted their second goal.
A great move started with Mikie Watt, was continued by Paul Gleghorne whose cross was met by Daniel Buser, who in full stride swept the ball past Lennox for the goal of the game.
Garvey’s second set piece came just before the half time interval. Again the ball was cleverly switched and Matthew Nelson was on hand to guide the ball past Lennox to take his team to a more than comfortable 3-1 lead at the break. Bruce McCandless brought a save out of Garvey keeper John Tormey in the 34th minute, but Garvey still had control of the game especially in mid field where Richard Arneill was doing a great job standing in for the injured Murray.
Tormey made another block from John McKee in the 41st minute and their second penalty corner was bravely blocked by the runner-out Neal Glassey in the 43rd minute to maintain Garvey’s two goal cushion.
McKee shot wildly over the cross bar in the 48th minute, while at the other end Garvey came very close to scoring goal number four when the dangerous Matthew Nelson was halted on the bye-line.
As the game entered the last quarter, Banbridge stepped up the pressure but Garvey, brilliantly marshalled by captain Jonny Bell, withstood all they could manage including two more penalty corners in the 55th and 56th minutes but the usually lethal; Stephen Dowds could not convert either of the chances.
The 57th minute brought the last incident of the match, Following Banbridge’s 4th set piece the ball seemed to strike Jonny Bell on the body but the rightful claims for a penalty stroke were dismissed by the umpire who opted for a thankful free out for Garvey instead.
A last Banbridge penalty corner was also off target in the 58th minute and that was enough to see Garvey lifting the EY Champions Trophy in its inaugral season.
The fresh cup was presented to Garvey captain Jonny Bell by I.H.A. President Richard Kendrick in the presence of Mike McKerr, Manager of Ernst and Young Ireland, the chief sponsor of the I.H.L. and the Champions Trophy.
Garvey’s skipper made reference to the sponsor and all who had contributed to the All Ireland competitions.
He also thanked his own team, the coaching staff and team manager for all their dedication over the course of the season.
Garvey can now relax after their momentous season and look forward not only to next year’s I.H.L. but yet another trip to Europe at a destination as yet unknown.