Eugene Magee turns on magic as leaders Bann bag final spot
Irish coach Craig Fulton will sit down soon to name his panel for March's World League 2 series in Belfast and the chances are that one of the first names he'll pen in is Eugene Magee.
Banbridge's experienced campaigner is enjoying a new lease of life since switched upfront - and that bore out again at the weekend as his goals helped take his team two points clear in the Irish Hockey League and also into the Irish Senior Cup final.
Magee struck twice as Bann crushed Dublin giants Monkstown 5-1 away from home on Saturday and he followed it up yesterday with another goal as they beat Corinthian 4-0 at Havelock Park to reach April's cup final against Monkstown.
And there was more good news for Mark Tumilty's lads when they learned the other IHL results fell in their favour, with rivals Lisnagarvey going down 3-1 at Three Rock and Cork C of I crashing 4-1 to Railway Union.
Bann are now two points clear of Three Rock, and three ahead of Garvey and four ahead of Cork with a game in hand over both.
But first yesterday's cup success over Corinthian.
The Dubliners lay deep for much of the game but Matthew Bell's penalty corner gave Bann the lead and Magee roofed another early in the second half to break their resistance.
Bann added a further goal through Matthew Bell's penalty stroke and Johnny McKee got the fourth when he deflected in a penalty corner.
It was Magee who put Bann on their way at Monkstown on Saturday, scoring their first two, one from open play and the other a penalty corner, with Matthew Bell's penalty stroke and further goals from Johnny McKee and Dane Ward wrapping things up.
Daniel Buser got Garvey's goal at Three Rock, but the young Dubliners shocked them with three goals to leapfrog them.
Instonians finally had something to celebrate when they chalked up their first IHL win by beating relegation rivals UCD.
William Robinson and Jeremy Duncan swapped goals but the Belfast side finished strongly and Mark Irwin got the decisive goal 90 seconds from time, with Stephen Kelso adding a third after UCD took off their goalkeeper in a bid to claw something back.
As expected, Cookstown, Kilkeel and Annadale all won in the Ulster Premier League to maintain the status quo at the top.
However, the Tyrone team's goal difference benefited most with a 11-1 success over Mossley, Ryan Millar bagging a hat-trick and Greg Allen and Jonathan Ames each getting a brace.
William Annett got Kilkeel's winner in a 4-3 win at Raphoe, with the Donegal side missing a penalty stroke, while Ben Wallace's two penalty corners gave Annadale a 2-0 win over Newry.
Finally, David Shepherd's treble helped North Down beat Ashton 5-0 to reach the Irish Hockey Trophy semi-final.
Irish Senior Cup semi-final: Banbridge 4 (M Bell 2, E Magee, J McKee) Corinthian 0; Monkstown 6 UCD 1
IHL: Monkstown 1 (D Carson) Banbridge 5 (E Magee 2, M Bell, J McKee, D Ward); Three Rock 3 (R McCollum, K Empey, M Samuel) Lisnagarvey 1 (D Buser); Instonians 3 (W Robinson, M Irwin, S Kelso) UCD 1 (J Duncan); Pembroke 5 (A Sothern 3, S Furlong, E Goode) Glenanne 2 (S Brownlow, S O'Donoghue); Cork C of I 1 (A Power) Railway 4 (R Forrest 2, P Catchpole, S McKeever); Premier League: Cookstown 11 (R Millar 3, G Allen 2, J Ames 2, S Smyth, M Kerr, K Black, A McWhirter) Mossley 1 (S Hamill); Raphoe 3 (A Tinney 2, K Regan) Kilkeel 4 (E Agnew 2, D Finlay, W Annett)' Annadale 2 (B Wallace 2) Newry 0; Campbellians 0 Civil Service 0
Senior One: Armagh 0 Antrim 3 (A Morrison, S McIlroy, J McMeekin); South Antrim 7 Cliftonville 1
IHT quarter-final: North Down 5 (D Shepherd 3, M Shannon, P Wilson) Ashton 0