Seven-up Garvey clinch Irish crown in real style
The first fully-fledged All-Ireland league crown will rest in Ulster for the next year after Lisnagarvey powered to the title with three games to spare.
A clinical second-half performance saw them crush Annadale 7-2 and now Errol Lutton's lads find themselves 13 points clear with the run-in still to come.
And Banbridge seem certain to join Garvey in the end-of-season Irish Champions Trophy play-offs after they routed Cookstown 5-0 to consolidate their third place, especially with fourth and fifth Glenanne and Three Rock being held to draws.
There were celebrations at Instonians too as they came from behind to beat Kilkeel 4-3 to be crowned Ulster champions.
But first that clinical display by Garvey, who found the Dale a tough nut to crack early on before Daniel Buser's deflected effort opened the floodgates.
Sean Murray's sweet shot on the reverse made it two before half-time and then Timmy Cockram added two - one from a penalty stroke - Murray got his second and Andy Williamson and Neal Glassey chipped in.
The Dale pulled two goals back late on through Matthew Allister and Michael Robson but they still remain bottom, although only three points adrift of Cookstown and Cork C of I.
Garvey skipper Jonathan Bell, who along with four team-mates had barely time to celebrate before heading off to England with the Irish men for three games against Great Britain in the build-up to Rio, said: "Our aim at the start of the season was to win the IHL and we've now done that with a few games to spare.
"Now we turn our attention to a possible double, having qualified for the end-of-season Irish Champions Trophy play-offs."
Mind you, they could have been chasing a treble except for the goal awarded against them when the half-time hooter had already sounded in the Irish Senior Cup final a fortnight ago.
It was a Stephen Dowds hat-trick that put Bann in control at Cookstown to ensure they move seven points clear of the chasing pack and just two points behind second-placed Monkstown.
Meanwhile, Kilkeel were twice ahead of Instonians but the extra man, following Andrew Niblock's red card, finally took its toll and Inst squeezed through 4-3 to claim the Ulster Premier League title following William Robinson's winner.
Raphoe's 3-2 success over Mossley means they may make the IHL provincial play-offs unless Belfast Harlequins win their final game at Newry tomorrow.
EY Irish Hockey League: Annadale 2 (M Allister, M Robson) Lisnagarvey 7 (T Cockram 2, S Murray 2, D Buser, A Williamson, N Glassey); Cookstown 0 Banbridge 5 (S Dowds 3, R Beattie, M Bell); Glenanne 0 Monkstown 0; Cork C of I 2 (J Jermyn 2) Three Rock 2 (D Walsh, F Morris); Railway Union 2 (J Dick 2) Pembroke 3 (A Sothern 2, H Spain).
Ulster Premier League: Kilkeel 3 (G Russell 2, W Annett) Instonians 4 (A Patterson 2, J Watson, W Robinson); Raphoe 3 (L Witherow, B Wallace, A Lyttle) Mossley 2 (D Glenny, J Cathcart).
Senior League Top Four: Antrim 2 (S McIlroy, D Wilson) Bangor 8 (M Riordan 2, H Dow 2, A Crean 2, R Tate, M McComb).
Anderson Cup 1st round: Ballynahinch 1 (G Graham) North Down 8 (R Poots 2, S Dalzell 2, J Bond 2, J Gilmore, J Linter); Campbellians 3 (J Easlie, C Bannister, S Moore) Newry 3 (D England 3) Campbellians won 5-4 on penalty strokes.
Sussex Regiment Cup: Portrush 4 Cliftonville 4 (N McKimm 2, J Allen, D Hurley).
Ireland's women bounced back from an opening defeat by China to beat India 4-0 at Hawke's Bay in New Zealand.
Anna O'Flanagan, Nicci Daly, Chloe Watkins and Ulster's Megan Frazer got the goals against the Rio-bound Indians.
Saturday: Hawke's Bay International Cup: Pool A: New Zealand 1 India 0; China 4 Ireland 0; Pool B: Australia 1 Japan 1; Canada 2 Korea 1.
President's Cup quarter-final: Randalstown 6 (J McGrillen, N Moore, K McDowell, A Ogilby, K Coulter, S Graham) Rainey 0
Senior One: Raphoe 4 Ballyclare 2.
Sunday: Hawke's Bay Cup: Pool A: New Zealand 3 China 1; Ireland 4 India 0; Pool B: Japan 6 Canada 2; Australia 2 Korea 0
Irish Junior Cup final: Queen's II 3 (J Morrow 2, H Kerr) Loreto II 2.