HOCKEY: Lisnagavey slip further back in title race

Sean Murray was the pick of the Garvey attack against Three rock Rovers. (Pic by Rowland White/PressEye)
Sean Murray was the pick of the Garvey attack against Three rock Rovers. (Pic by Rowland White/PressEye)

EYHL Round 13

Three Rock Rovers 3, Lisnagarvey 1

Lisnagarvey took a step backwards on Saturday at Grange Road when they were beaten by Three Rock Rovers.

Rovers have now replaced Garvey in second place in the EYHL title race and the champions are now three points adrift of leaders Banbridge.

The match in Dublin was always going to be tight but throughout the 70 minutes, the home side always looked the more likely to score goals and even with Garvey’s possession, they found penetration of the Three Rock circle very difficult.

The first quarter saw the respective midfields cancelling out each other and after Andy Williamson had a ‘gift’ in the opening minute there was little action around the goals thereafter as the first period ended scoreless.

The initial break came from the home side when they forced a penalty corner in the 26th minute but the resulting drag flick was very well saved by Garvey keeper James Milliken while at the other end, a few minutes later, Matthew Nelson had a double chance of scoring but was denied by Rover’s keeper Jamie Carr.

In the 30th minute, Garvey forced their first penalty corner but James Lorimer’s flick was easily dealt with by Carr.

Two minutes later Lorimer put a second set-piece past the post and Garvey were to be punished for their mistakes in the 32nd minute when they were caught napping and McCollum scored the opening goal which gave the home side a 1-0 advantage at the interval.

Matthew Nelson almost equalised for Garvey in the 38th minute but his shot was scraped off the line by the frantic Rovers defence and seconds later they had extended their lead. The ball was carried down the right wing by Conor Empy who was able to squeeze his shot past Milliken from a very narrow angle.

Garvey really began to turn the screw after the second Rovers goal and within five minutes had reduced the score to 2-1. Andy Williamson did the work on the left before Garvey skipper Daniel Buser put the finishing touch close to goal and Garvey were right back in the game with 20 minutes still remaining.

However, in the 49th minute, Rovers made things very hard for Garvey with another ‘soft’ goal. This time it was Mark Samuel who stripped the Garvey defence again down the right and again beat Milliken at his near post although the shot, this time was a much stronger effort.

With three quarters of the game gone, Garvey needed to call on a comeback similar to last week’s against Pembroke but even with a succession of penalty corners in the 54th, 56th and 65th minutes, they could not conjure up another goal.

Sean Murray, again the pick of the Garvey attack, tried without success to produce the telling pass in the Rovers’ circle but only a chance for Williamson late in the game gave Garvey a hope of snatching anything from the game.

With Banbridge hammering Monkstown by 5-1 they now lead the EYHL comfortably with a game in hand and Garvey must make sure to defeat third placed Cork Church of Ireland at Comber Road next Saturday (2.30pm) to keep in the vital top four play off positions.