Garvey and Bann shine to roar into play-off spots
Banbridge and Lisnagarvey are both into the EY Irish Hockey League's play-off places after they returned home from Dublin with convincing wins on Saturday.
Bann's 4-0 romp at Railway Union put them back on top of the table and Garvey's 4-2 win over previous leaders Monkstown means they move up to third and back into the reckoning after a few recent blips this season.
It was that Garvey win which was the weekend's biggest talking point, as it saw the Andy Williamson and Matthew Nelson partnership upfront start to pay rich dividends.
The duo answered their critics in style as they tortured the usually solid Monkstown defence and earned the Blues ample revenge for their Irish Senior Cup elimination just a fortnight previous.
Nelson put away the first following good work from Neal Glassey and, after Kyle Good equalised, Williamson turned the game with two fine strikes, the first on the reverse after his first effort had been saved and the second from great work by Nelson on the wing.
Richard Syks put away a penalty corner for the Dubliners to give them some hope but recent signing Michael Robson got his first goal in Garvey colours when his cross was deflected in five minutes from time.
Bann had their game at Railway wrapped up inside the first 25 minutes with Peter Brown, Dane Ward, Eugene Magee and Matthew Bell all on the mark to maintain their unbeaten run this season.
They are now going into the Christmas and New Year break at the summit and with a game in hand over both Monkstown and Garvey.
Cork C of I beat Glenanne 2-1 but the other two IHL games were called off, with many believing the game between Instonians and Three Rock at Shaw's Bridge might have gone ahead if sufficient time had been allowed for the pitch to defrost.
There were two postponements in the Ulster Senior League too, which meant none of the three leaders were in action over the weekend, but Belfast Harlequins and Civil Service both chalked up wins on Friday evening.
EY Irish Hockey League: Railway Union 0 Banbridge 4 (P Brown, D Ward, E Magee, M Bell); Monkstown 2 K Good, R Sykes) Lisnagarvey 4 (A Williamson 2, M Nelson, M Robson); Cork C of I 2 (S Parker, J Jermyn) Glenanne 1 (E O'Malley); Instonians v Three Rock Rovers (postponed); UCD v Pembroke Wanderers (postponed)
Ulster Senior League: Belfast Harlequins 6 (L McClelland 2, C Orwell, J Hutchinson, C Lemon, R Quigley) North Down 3 (G McKeown 3); Civil Service 3 (C Barnes 3) Newry 2 (K McWilliams 2); Cookstown v Raphoe (postponed); Mossley v Annadale (postponed)
Senior One: Cliftonville 6 Ballynahinch 0; Armagh 5 Portrush 2; Queen's v South Antrim (postponed)