Annadale keep Ulster hopes alive
The Irish Senior Cup will definitely have an Ulster finalist but it's looking increasingly likely that not even one of the province's five qualifiers from the pool phase will be in the Irish Hockey League semi-finals.
Annadale were the only winners in the penultimate set of all-Ireland fixtures with Cookstown drawing and Banbridge, Instonians and Lisnagarvey all losing.
Even Annadale’s final two games in Pool B are at Ulster League champions Cookstown and Leinster League leaders Pembroke ... and they would need at least a win and a draw to be in at the kill.
The Dale beat Instonians 2-1 at the weekend, with goals from Peter Purcell and Ian Hamilton, to leave them trailing Glenanne by three points and one behind Pembroke who beat Glenanne 5-4 yesterday, thanks to an Alan Sothern hat-trick, but Stephen Butler's hat-trick earned the Glens a valuable bonus point.
Cookstown, missing the injured David Ames, drew 2-2 at home to bottom team Cork Harlequins on Saturday, their third draw from three games.
Now they need to win the rearranged game with Annadale and also beat Glenanne in their final game on April 5, while picking up the odd bonus point along the way ... a very big ask.
Inst's defeat at Annadale ends their hopes, their marksman being Mark Gleghorne who had just returned from a trial with leading Dutch club Blomendaal.
Banbridge suffered their first loss in Pool A, 4-1 at current all-Ireland champions Three Rock Rovers on Saturday, and although they are expected to win their final game against Monkstown on April 4, it may not be enough.
That's because Cork C of I beat Lisnagarvey 3-2 yesterday - Peter McDonnell and Timmy Cockram scoring for Garvey - and lead the pool on 12 points to Three Rock's 11 and Bann's nine.
The scenario is simple for Bann - they must beat Monkstown in their final game, preferably with a bonus point, and then hope that the Three Rock and C of I game doesn't end in a draw.
Meanwhile, the Irish Hockey Trophy final will be an all-Ulster affair after North Down beat Catholic Institute 4-0 in one semi-final, with Andy Forrest scoring another two goals, and Antrim beating Civil Service 5-4 in the other, with a double from Johnny McMcMeekin.