Banbridge stole a march on their EYHL rivals with a 2-0 success at Pembroke Wanderers as the rest of the top four all dropped points on Saturday.
The Co Down men brought some of the quality that helped them qualify for the last 16 of the EuroHockey League to bear as they dominated all four quarters against a Pembroke side shy of Alan Sothern’s guile, with Matthew Bell’s early corner goal book-ended by a Johnny McKee strike late on.
Having seen their 21-game winning run ended by a draw against Three Rock Rovers last week, title holders Lisnagarvey again had to come from behind to rescue a 2-2 tie away to third-placed Cork Church of Ireland.
A pair of John Jermyn strikes, one a cracker from open play, cancelled out Andy Williamson’s opener for ‘Garvey at Garryduff but James Lorimer equalised before half-time and that’s how it stayed.
Monkstown had a day to forget against a resurgent Three Rock Rovers, crashing to a 3-0 home defeat. Ross Canning punished Lee Cole’s mistimed tackle from the penalty spot in the opening half before Monkstown had two goals chalked off as well as seeing Gareth Watkins’ penalty stroke saved by Jamie Carr in the Rovers goal.
‘Town pressed for an equaliser but Kevin Mullins and Conor Empey picked them off on the break in the last quarter to secure a memorable success for a young Three Rock side.
Lisnagarvey are now tied with Bann on 11 points at the top ahead of their meeting next Sunday, with C of I and Monkstown a point further back while Rovers are in fifth on eight points in a more congested-looking top five.
Elsewhere, Railway Union’s woes continued with a 4-3 reverse to newly-promoted UCD. Jeremy Duncan’s double and efforts from Andrew Keane and Greg Chambers put the students 4-0 up before taking the foot off the pedal in the final five minutes, allowing Mark English’s brace and one from Simon McKeever give Railway a brief but futile flicker of hope.
Basement side Instonians got off the mark as William Robinson rescued a 1-1 draw at Glenanne’, his penalty corner strike cancelling out a similar effort from Olympian Shane O’Donoghue. The result does neither side many favours however, as they remain in the bottom two.
Men’s EY Hockey League: Pembroke Wanderers 0 Banbridge 2 (M Bell, J McKee); Cork C of I 2 (J Jermyn 2) Lisnagarvey 2 (A Williamson, J Lorimer); Monkstown 0 Three Rock Rovers 3 (R Canning, K Mullins, C Empey); UCD 4 (J Duncan 2, A Keane, G Chambers) Railway Union 3 (M English 2, S McKeever); Instonians 1 (W Robinson) Glenanne 1 (S O’Donoghue).