Lisnagarvey lost touch with their qualification for the final stages of the I.H.L. when they were beaten by Three Rock Rovers last Saturday at Comber Road.
The 4-2 defeat makes it impossible to go further in the competition even after they had taken a two goal lead in a very competitive first half.
However, once Three Rock had scored their opening goal they never looked back and with a high quality performance dominated the remainder of the match.
The home side could not have started better; Johhny Quigley made a typical fast raid down the right before Johnny Bell crossed for Andy Williamson to put the finishing touch after just 22 seconds.
A penalty corner was forced in the 4th minute as Garvey were in charge but the Timmy Cockram flick was blocked by Three Rock keeper, Stephen West while at the other end the visitors also had a set piece which involved John Tormey making two excellent saves from close range.
Garvey went further ahead in the 6th minute when Jason Lynch brought off superb left wing cross on his reverse side and Andy Williamson got a deft touch which beat West for pace at his left post.
Gradually, however, the Dublin side got themselves into the game and Mitch Darling should have scored in the 12th minute but saw his shot go narrowly past the upright but immediately Andy Forrest forced Garvey’s second penalty corner. The resulting Cockram drag flick went straight at keeper West making his save routine and the first quarter ended with Garvey still 2-0 ahead.
The Three Rock front men were beginning to make things difficult for the brittle Garvey defence and in the 20th minute Darling forced a great save out of Tormey before they scored their deserved goal in the 23rd minute.
The ball was given away at the back by Garvey and within a few seconds, Jonathon Bruton had found space in the Garvey circle and beat Tormey with some ease.
The goal seemed to inspire the visitors as they raised their game to a different level and their intensity was fully rewarded when Bruton scored a good equaliser in the 28th minute leaving the tally at 2-2 at the half time interval with the pendulum having swung in favour of Three Rock.
At this point, Garvey needed inspiration from some source and they did create a great chance but James Lorimer failed to find the net from 5 yards and almost immediately the visitors had grabbed the vital lead. The goal was as good as any seen at Comber Road as Peter Blakeney shot from well out on the right of the circle on his reverse side which rocketed the ball into the Garvey net without the goalkeeper or a defender being able to react.
This 48th minute goal for Three Rock shook Garvey who seemed to be well short of ideas when faced with a well marshalled defence led by Darragh Walsh. A second penalty corner in the 43rd taken by Timmy Cockram was again straight at West while a third in the 56th minute was scraped off the goal line.
A shot by skipper Bell went past the post and Garvey’s 4th corner was again easily blocked by keeper West as Garvey strove to grab the crucial equaliser with time running out, the score being 3-2 at the end of the third quarter.
Three Rock began the final session of a very competitive match with purpose; their 3rd penalty corner was taken off the goal line by Tormey and he also made the save of the match with his stick in the 55th minute.
The last 15 minutes of the game saw Three Rock in control, being very well organised both in defence and attack. A 4th penalty corner was again barely kept out by Tormey but in the 64th minute the result was settled when Mitch Darling got in front of the Garvey defence and scored the ‘killer’ 4th goal to end Garvey’s interest in the I.H.L. for this season.
Garvey had been beaten by a better side on the day with Three Rock reacting to the early two goal deficit with a very high quality performance to which Garvey had little response when the ‘chips were down’.
Garvey were due to face Banbridge at Havelock Park on Saturday. However, the match was called off due to four Bann players’ involvement with Ireland, whilst Johnny Bell is also in the Ireland squad.
Garvey Seconds hope to take another stride towards winning the Irish Junior Cup on Saturday. They take on Cork Church of Ireland Seconds in the quarter final at Comber Road at 2-30 p.m. Captain Philip Stirling is more than pleased with his team’s performance this season and having destroyed Raphoe by 12 goals to nil in the last round, he will be confident to move a step closer to his ultimate target.
Garvey teams: 2nds v Cork Church of Ireland, Q-F Irish Junior Cup, Comber Road, 2.30pm - F.Carnduff, R.Bothwell, R.Kelly, T.McRoberts, I.Davidson, G.Bittle, M.Raphael, S.McCabe, P.Stirling,M.Robinson, G.Thompson, J.Dowling, J.Stevenson,J.Gray.
3rds v North Down Seconds, Ist Rnd Mcclements Cup, Comber L.C. 4pm - N.Brazil, J.Beckett, J.Taggart, P.Fleming, J.Curragh, R.Kee, C.Getty, N.Harbinson, I.Harbinson, A.O’Hare, P.Keery, R.Donaldson, J.Hermon.
4ths v Banbridge Thirds, Ist Rnd Mcclements Cup, Comber Road, 1pm - N.Brazil, C.Atkinson, J.Atkinson, S.Docherty, D.Bolas, D.Patton, D.Bolton, G.Halliday, S.Brown, S.Pinion, N.Mcknight, S.McMurray, F.Harkin.
5ths v Cookstown Fourths, Ist Rnd Ulster Junior Shield, Comber Road, 4pm. - Team to be selected.
6ths v Compbellians Seconds, League, Compbell College, 1pm - Team to be selected.