Garvey and Bann held to draws as title race hots up
Banbridge came from behind three times to earn a point in a 3-3 draw with Dublin giants Monkstown in the big EY Irish Hockey League clash at Havelock Park yesterday.
And with Lisnagarvey's run of 21 straight wins in the IHL coming to an end at their Hillsborough base on Saturday - they were held to a 1-1 draw by Three Rock Rovers - it means just two points separate the top four teams as the league goes into a fortnight break over Halloween.
Yes, the all-Ireland set-up continues to intrigue and when it resumes in November there are a few tasty meetings, with joint top Garvey going to third placed Cork C of I, Monkstown going to Three Rock, and fourth placed Bann going to Pembroke.
Bann certainly had to work hard yesterday against a Monkstown team determined to regain the crown from Garvey, and they had to dig in big-time - just like they did in the EuroHockey League a week earlier - to get something from the game.
Sam Hyland put the Dublin side ahead but talisman Eugene Magee levelled before half-time with a clincial finish from a penalty corner switched left.
Back came Monkstown with Karl Smith regaining their lead but a sweet move from Owen Magee and Jonny McKee set up Jamie Wright to make it 2-2.
It seemed the visitors were going to take all three points when international striker Kyle Good caught them on the break with eight minutes left but Matthew Bell made sure of the draw when he converted a penalty stroke after a corner was stopped illegally.
Garvey lacked their normal clinical finishing in Saturday's game with Three Rock and it seemed they were going to pay dearly when Conor Empey put the Dubliners ahead with only four minutes left.
But Sean Murray levelled for the Blues with a minute remaining to keep their unbeaten run going, although their record-breaking number of wins on the trot is over.
Erroll Lutton's lads now turn their attention to the Irish Senior Cup with a visit to Pembroke this Saturday.
It's four defeats out of four for Instonians as they try to adopt to life in the fast lane, but once again they came close with a 3-2 setback at UCD.
James Corry and Mark Irwin scored their goals, but it was a long way back after Jeremy Duncan struck twice early on.
Kilkeel still lead the way in the Ulster Premier League, but Mossley pushed them hard in what was an 11-goal thriller.
David Finlay and Luke Russell each scored twice for the Mourne side in their 6-5 win, but Simon Todd's rich run of form continued as he bagged a hat-trick for the Newtownabbey lads.
Annadale and Cookstown continue to snap at their heels, with the Dale hitting a high five against Campbellians and Cookstown edging through 2-1 at Newry.
Player/coach Peter Caruth's treble sealed the win for Dale while it needed goals from Stuart Smyth and Greg Allen to send the Tyrone side home happy.
EY Irish Hockey League: Banbridge 3 (E Magee, J Wright, M Bell) Monkstown 3 (S Hyland, K Smith, K Good); Lisnagarvey 1 (S Murray) Three Rock Rovers 1 (C Empey); UCD 3 (J Duncan 2, A Keane) Instonians 2 (J Corry, M Irwin); Glenanne 1 (S Brownlow) Pembroke 2 (A Sothern 2); Railway Union 2 (M English 2) Cork C of I 6 (J Jermyn 2, S Sweetnam 2, S Parker, J Dale)
Ulster Premier League: Annadale 5 (P Caruth 3, O Brown, A McKibben) Campbellians 0; Newry 1 (K Fletcher) Cookstown 2 (S Smyth, G Allen); Kilkeel 6 (D Finlay 2, L Russell 2, J Aiken, J Finlay) Mossley 5 (S Todd 3, S Clarke, D Glennie); North Down 2 (M Nicholls, J Bond) Portadown 0
Senior One: Portrush 1 (B Smyth) Antrim 7 (J McMeekin 3, L Kane 2, S Clyde, S McIlroy); Bangor 2 South Antrim 2