Two goal Timmy Cockram fires Lisnagarvey to the top
We may be still just over two weeks away to Christmas but Lisnagarvey and Mossley must be thinking they have received their festive presents already.
Garvey not only won their EY Irish Hockey League game against fellow Ulster club Annadale by 3-1 on Saturday but found out later that they were now at the top of the table after current champions Monkstown crashed unexpectedly to a 3-2 home defeat against Glenanne.
And Mossley - who have yet to register a win in the Ulster Premier League - won through to the Boxing Day Kirk Cup final when they beat Civil Service 3-2 in the semi-final at Stormont.
Yes, happy days for Garvey in particular as they approach the halfway stage of the new all-Ireland league format, with Monkstown's defeat the big bonus.
Sean Murray gave Garvey the lead - his fifth in four games from midfield - against the Dale only to see Connor Roberts level.
But experienced Irish international striker Timmy Cockram made sure of the win with two penalty corner conversions.
Banbridge also squeezed through in another all-Ulster derby, with Eugene Magee's penalty corner conversion late in the game finally breaking down a stubborn Cookstown defence in which goalkeeper Ian Hughes was outstanding.
The good news is that Garvey are top and Bann third, with both firmly in the hunt for the end-of-season play-offs. But the bad news is that Dale and Cookstown are now rooted to the foot of the table and need a few wins under their belts soon before they get too far adrift.
This Saturday's clash between the two now has considerable added importance.
Mossley coach Fergie Cosgrove is hoping his team's run to the Boxing Day Kirk Cup final will give them confidence as they bid to climb clear of the Ulster Premier League relegation zone.
Matthew Sullivan gave them an early lead against Civil Service only for Chris Barnes to level with a trademark penalty corner.
But when David Glenny converted a corner variation and Jordan Robinson put away a penalty stroke after he had been fouled, it was clear Mossley were going through.
Barnes got his second for Service late on and it needed Mossley keeper McMillan to make a crucial save at the death to preserve his team's lead.
"All the extra training has really paid off," said a delighted Mossley coach Cosgrove afterwards.
"We have been struggling to score this season but reaching the final is a real bonus and will hopefully give the players the confidence for the league programme ahead."
Meanwhile Instonians are now clear favourites for the Premier title after they made it seven straight wins and nearest rivals Kilkeel were held to an unexpected 3-3 home draw by Portadown.
William Robinson bagged himself a hat-trick in Inst's 8-0 success at South Antrim but Kilkeel threw away a 3-1 lead with just 10 minutes remaining and then needed goalkeeper Sam Morris to save two penalty strokes to ensure that they at least got something out of the game.
In Senior One, Ryan Burgess was top scorer with five for leaders Bangor in their 10-4 win over Ballynahinch.
RESULTS: Irish Hockey League: Banbridge 1 (E Magee) Cookstown 0; Lisnagarvey 3 (T Cockram 2, S Murray) Annadale 1 (C Roberts); Pembroke 1 (A Sothern) Railway Union 1 (M English); Three Rock 4 (P Blakeney 2, R Canning, F Morris) Cork C of I 3 (J Jermyn 3); Monkstown 2 (A Ward, L Cole) Glenanne 3 (S Boucher 2, D Keogh)
Kirk Cup semi-final: Mossley 3 (M Sullivan, D Glenny, J Robinson) Civil Service 2 (C Barnes 2)
Ulster Premier League: Civil Service 0 North Down 0; Mossley 0 Belfast Harlequins 0; South Antrim 0 Instonians 8 (W Robinson 3, A Patteson 2, S Kelso, A Coulter, J Watson); Newry 1 (C McKnight) Raphoe 1 (S Cleverley); Kilkeel 3 (W Annett, A Niblock, G Russell) Portadown 3 (S Johnston, M Winter, J Brown)
Senior One: Queen's 6 (P Watt 2, J McCaigue, C Ormondby, G Leckey, P Hawthorne); Campbellians 5 (C Mack 2, J Clarke, J Easlie, S Kirk) Antrim 2 (S McIlroy, D Wilson); Ballynahinch 4 Bangor 10 (R Burgess 5, A Riordan 2, R Cunningham, D McClune, N McKeown); Portrush 3 Cliftonville 2 (D Hurley 2).