Cork Church of Ireland created the shock of the Irish Senior Cup this season by defeating Lisnagarvey at Comber Road by 4 goals to 3.
A combination of some fragile defending and poor finishing led to Garvey continually chasing the game and their day was totally ruined when Cork slotted a penalty corner in the 68th minute to grab the tie and a place in the semi-final.
Garvey began the game in purposeful fashion with a series of raids on the Cork defence and after six minutes a move between Daniel Buser and Timmy Cockram led to Cork keeper Billy Lynch bringing off the first of many fine saves during the 70 minutes.
A near miss by Andy Forrest led to a break by Cork and when Steven Arbuthnot failed to clear the ball close to his circle, Alec Moffatt was on hand to guide it past the Garvey keeper John Tormey and give the visitors a surprise lead after seven minutes.
Sean Murray set up Cockram in the 10th minute but the Irish international blasted the ball over the cross bar with the goal at his mercy. This was quickly followed by Garvey’s first penalty corner but the routine broke down and another chance was wasted.
Worse was to follow in the 14th minute when Cork converted their first set piece; ex Ireland player John Germyn scoring after the ball was deflected past Tormey to give his team an unbelievable start and giving Garvey a mountain to climb.
Johnny Quigley down the right flank was creating many problems for Cork but Garvey still failed to find the net during the ensuing 10 minutes of continuous pressure. However, in the 24th minute, yet another right wing cross was met by Andy Forrest and he beat keeper Lynch at his right hand post to bring the home side back into the match.
Forrest was in the game a few minutes later when he created a chance for Timmy Cockram but again the striker was denied by Lynch with another fine save while Sean Murray shot past the post in the 28th minute when well placed.
The pressure continued with two penalty corners in quick succession and after the first was blocked by Lynch the second drag flick was also saved but Garvey skipper Jonny Bell was on hand to score on his reverse to bring the game back to level terms after 33 minutes.
Just when Garvey were preparing for a well needed half time team talk at 2-2, again Cork grabbed the lead and again it was very poor defending which left Philip Brownlow in acres of space and the simple task of sweeping the ball into an empty net.
Both teams went to the changing rooms at the interval with Garvey a goal adrift and a battle in front of them against a Cork team which was inspired in defence and happy to take advantage of the chances handed to them by a suspect Garvey rearguard.
The second half began with a penalty corner for Garvey in the 37th minute and at last Timmy Cockram produced an unstoppable drag flick which gave keeper Lynch no chance of making a save.
At 3-3, the Garvey supporters were optimistic of a victory with their team still creating the attacking hockey and chances.
Johnny Quigley set up Andy Forrest in the 43rd minute but again his effort went past the post while their 4th penalty corner also missed the target in the 48th minute.
Quigley did have the ball in the net in the 50th minute but he was adjudged to have been marginally outside the circle and the goal was ruled out by the umpire.
Cork, with attacks few and far between did manage a penalty corner in the 57th minute but the Germyn shot never took place as the routine broke down in the early stage of a switch.
Cockram gave Forrest a good chance in the 60th minute but the striker had an ‘air shot’ and yet another opportunity to take the lead was wasted.
A Cockram shot was brilliantly saved by Lynch in the 62nd minute and seconds later the man of the match, again saved at point blank range from a desperate Jonny Bell.
The 67th minute saw a Cockram attempt scraped off the Cork goal line with Lynch beaten but still Garvey could not score the vital fourth and deciding goal.
With two minutes left in a compelling cup tie, Cork produced the ‘coup de grace’ with their 3rd penalty corner.
The calm John Germyn beat Tormey at his left hand post to take the lead but the final twist came with the clock stopped when Garvey had the chance to take the game to the ’golden goal’ stage but Timmy Cockram’s strong drag flick went well wide of the target and Cork found themselves celebrating an outstanding win against the Irish Cup odds.
Garvey now have to put this disappointment behind them and concentrate on their vital Premier League match against leaders Banbridge on Saturday.
Trailing their old rivals by five points, this could be Garvey’s last chance of closing the gap and giving themselves at least a slim chance of grabbing the title against the odds.
Even though Banbridge have had the best of the results this season with a win and a draw, both encounters between the teams have seen very little between them.
The 4-3 defeat at Comber Road early in the campaign was followed by a great 4-4 draw in the I.H.L. in December at Havelock Park indicating that Saturday’s match could be another close affair.
Garvey will be smarting after the Irish Cup shock with skipper Jonny Bell vowing to bounce back with a win which would open up the Premier League and make the rest of the season much more interesting.
His team will probably be without Richard Arneill who badly injured a finger during Saturday’s game against Cork.
Another classic game is ‘on the cards’, starting at 2.30pm at Havelock Park, having been brought forward due to the weather.