Double blow sees Banbridge HC make early Europe exit
The new 'double-goal' rule put a much harsher slant on Banbridge's back-to-back defeats in the EuroHockey League's first round staged at Barcelona over the weekend.
Mark Tumilty's much-changed squad were unable to emulate last season's heights when they reached EuroHockey League's knock-out stages, this time losing 6-0 to Poland's Gunwald Poznan and 6-2 to Belgian giants Racing Club Bruxelles.
But the experimental rule - field goals and penalty strokes count as two and penalty strokes as one - came in for some heavy criticism as scorelines like 15-2, 11-2, 10-0, 9-0 and 9-1 do not look good on paper.
Those scorelines certainly made Bann's defeats not look so bad, but it still seems they were trounced whereas in fact they shaped up well in both games.
They really should have got something from the Poznan game on Saturday but they failed to put away a handful of good chances and ended up conceding three late goals, mostly on the counter-attack, as they chased an equaliser.
They also were in contention against Bruxelles until the final quarter - Philip Brown converted a penalty stroke to make it 1-1, but Irish international Conor Harte converted a penalty corner to put the matter beyond them.
Disappointing though as it was, the younger players in the squad making their European debuts gained quality experience which should help them as the Irish Hockey League campaign gets into full stride after next week's Irish Senior Cup first round.
Meanwhile, Annadale chalked up their first point in the Irish Hockey League when they drew 4-4 at Cork C of I, with two of their new signings chipping in with goals.
It was just the tonic needed after last week's heavy defeat and Australian signing Rhiley Carr struck twice and former Newry player John Taylor got one.
Cookstown, though, fell to their second narrow defeat, this time 3-2 at Glenanne while Three Rock Rovers made it two wins from two by beating Railway Union and Monkstown and Pembroke drew 2-2.
The Kirk Cup semi-finals next month will see Pool A winners Kilkeel take on Pool B runners up Instonians and Pool B winners Civil Service taking on Pool A runners up Mossley.
Conor Bannister scored twice as Service beat Inst 3-1 to leapfrog them at the top while Simon Todd also scored a brace as Mossley made sure of staying ahead of South Antrim by beating Portadown 3-2.
And the Linden Cup finalists are now known with Bangor due to meet Raphoe.
Rhys Cunningham bagged four as Bangor ran up double figures against Armagh while Simon Goudie struck twice in Raphoe's 3-0 win over Ballynahinch.
Finally, it was with great sadness that the hockey fraternity learned of Philip Duke's passing, a tremendous loss to his club Belfast Harlequins and to Ulster and Irish hockey whom he has served so well.
EuroHockey League: Banbridge 0 Grunwald Poznan 6 (P Bratkowski 2, D Kotulski, M Poltaszweski ); Racing Club Bruxelles 6 (J Truyens 2, T Boon, C Harte) Banbridge 2 (P Brown)
Irish Hockey League: Glenanne 3 (S O'Donoghue, C Kennedy, G Shaw) Cookstown 2 (S Smyth, G Allen); Cork C of I 4 (J Dale 2, S Parker, T Brophy) Annadale 4 (R Carr 2, O McElhinney, J Taylor); Monkstown 2 (G Sarratt, D Carson) Pembroke Wanderers 2 (A Sothern 2); Railway Union 0 v Three Rock Rovers 4 (M Darling 2, R Pautz, P Blakeney)
Kirk Cup: Mossley 3 (S Todd 2, J Robinson) Portadown 2 (S Johnston, J Brown); Newry 3 (D England 2, A Irwin) South Antrim 1 (P Maguire); Civil Service 3 (C Bannister 2, C Barnes) Instonians 1 (G Leckey); Queen's 2 North Down 3 (G McKeown 2, J Moore)
Linden Cup: Bangor 15 (R Cunningham 4, C Campbell 3, D McClune 2, M McCombe, R Tate, J Easlie, A Martin, A Reading, A Watson) Armagh 0; Cliftonville 1 (S Abbass) Antrim 5 (S Clyde 3, A McBride, R McClintock); Raphoe 3 (S Goudie 2, J Devenney) Ballynahinch 0