Caruth fires Dale closer to the drop
Irish international Peter Caruth edged his former club Annadale ever closer to relegation when he scored a hat-trick in Monkstown's 5-2 win at the Carryduff venue in the final round of EY Irish Hockey League fixtures before the winter break.
The striker showed little festive spirit towards the club that groomed him in his early days by slamming in two during the first quarter and completing his treble in the second half to leave the Dale entrenched at the foot of the table with just two points at the halfway stage.
It has been five years since Caruth left Lough Moss to try his luck in Belgium and after injury ruled him out for more than a year, he has bounced back with the Dublin club helping them to all-Ireland glory.
His goals were just what Monkstown needed as they had travelled without three of their international strikers in Kyle Good, Jonny Bruton and David Carson, but the Dale were also missing a few regulars with the experienced duo of David Smyth and Chris Jackson absentees and it showed in the opening half as they shipped four goals.
The second half was more encouraging for the Dale and although Caruth completed his hat-trick, they pulled goals back from Paul McDonnell and Matthew Allister to emphasise that their position is perhaps false.
But it does look that at least one Ulster club will drop back into provincial hockey, as it is Dale and Cookstown who trail behind the pack.
Second bottom Cookstown suffered their eighth defeat in nine games by going down 2-1 at home to Three Rock.
It's better news at the top end of the table where Lisnagarvey go into the seven-week break four points clear while Banbridge are safely in the play-off places in third.
Garvey, though, needed top scorer Timmy Cockram to earn them a 3-2 win at Railway Union with a last gasp penalty corner conversion.
They led at the halfway stage through goals from Cockram and Andy Forrest but were pegged back in the second half until they were awarded the corner just as the final hooter was sounded.
Up stepped Cockram to send his drag-flick high into the net for a dramatic winner.
Bann remain third after a 3-3 draw at Glenanne but it was their fourth time in five games they had shared the spoils, and so they are losing ground on the top two.
Josh Moffatt and Eugene Magee were on the mark but it needed a Stephen Dowds penalty corner late on to guarantee them returning home with something in the bag against the ever-improving Dubliners.
Meanwhile Instonians won the Kirk Cup final dress rehearsal with a 2-0 win at Mossley, the goals from Alan Patterson and John Watson ensuring they made it eight wins from eight in the Ulster Premier League.
There were hat-tricks for William Annett and David Finlay as Kilkeel kept the pressue on with a 9-2 success over South Antrim, while Portadown, Raphoe and Newry also chalked up wins.
Ryan Burgess bagged another four goals as Bangor won 5-3 at Armagh to stay top of the Senior League table, although nearest rivals Campbellians knocked in double figures to keep in touch.
EY Irish Hockey League: Annadale 2 (P McDonnell, M Allister) Monkstown 5 (P Caruth 3, R Sykes, J Guilfoyle); Railway Union 2 (M English, J Dick) Lisnagarvey 3 (T Cockram 2, A Forrest); Glenanne 3 (S Boucher 2, S Ronan) Banbridge 3 (J Moffatt, E Magee, S Dowds); Cookstown 1 (P Thompson) Three Rock Rovers 2 (F Morris 2); Pembroke Wanderers 1 (R Flannery) Cork C of I 1 (J Jermyn)
Ulster Premier League: Mossley 0 Instonians 2 (A Patterson, J Watson); Raphoe 3 (B Wallace 2, L Witherow) Belfast Harlequins 1 (L McClelland); Portadown 2 (A Stevenson, R Scott) North Down 0; Newry 3 (C McKnight, A Foster, K McWilliams) Civil Service 1 (R Anderson); Kilkeel 9 (W Annett 3, D Finlay 3, C Crozier, G Russell, D Rae) South Antrim 2 (J Brown, M Getty)
Senior League: Ballynahinch 0 Cliftonville 3 (E Patterson, W Booker, N McKimm); Campbellians 11 (P Rolston 3, S McMillan 2, J Easlie 2, J Hall 2, C Bannister, C Mack) Portrush 1 (D Smith); Queen's 4 (T Sturgeon, G Leckey, A Bell, T Watt) Antrim 0; Armagh 3 (M Russell 2, M Wilson) Bangor 5 (R Burgess 4, D McClune)