Hockey: Lisnagarvey display true grit to bring down Banbridge
Sometimes it isn't always possible to play open, attractive and attacking hockey to win games.
And that was the case in Saturday's top of the table clash when Lisnagarvey had to dig deep and defend stoutly to win by the only goal of the game against fierce rivals Banbridge at Hillsborough.
It was Greg Thompson who tucked away the winner — after just 100 seconds — and thereafter Garvey weren't afraid to contain a Bann attack that not only missed the scoring power of striker Dane Ward, but also the penalty corner prowess of Ross McCandless, who were both injured.
It was Bann's first league defeat of the season and it means they now trail Garvey by four points, although they have a crucial game in hand and also have the Lisburn side to come at Havelock Park.
Bann hadn't their sorrows to seek coming into the game, as they had defender Scott Forbes out injured as well as Ward and McCandless and the reshuffle had barely got to know each other before Thompson pounced, deflecting Jason Lynch's free into the roof of the net.
Thereafter they found it difficult to break down the Garvey defence in which the impressive Jonathan Bell and Brian Waring were so composed. And with Mark Raphael and Timmy Cockram lying much deeper than usual, particularly in the final 20 minutes, the Bann attack often found themselves smothered.
Bann must now pick themselves up for next week when they take on current all-Ireland champions Pembroke at Havelock Park in an Irish Hockey League game, scheduled for the later than usual 4pm slot, whereas the win will be just the tonic Garvey need before they go to Cookstown in the same competition, just a fortnight after losing to the Tyrone men in the Kirk Cup semi-final.
Cookstown won Saturday's league game at Bangor with Timmy Smyth scoring twice in a 4-1 win and Neil Hamilton bagged a hat-trick to take his tally this season to 21 as Annadale beat Instonians 4-2.
In the Irish Junior Cup there were wins for Annadale II, Banbridge II and Lisnagarvey II, which means three Ulster teams go into this afternoon's semi-final draw but Ballymena's Irish Challenge Trophy hopes disappeared when they lost at Kilkenny.
O'NE 1918 Premier League: Lisnagarvey 1 (G Thompson) Banbridge 0; Annadale 4 (N Hamilton 3, C Campbell) Instonians 2 (I Pannu, J Madill); Bangor 1 (S McLean) Cookstown 4 (T Smyth 2, G Cuddy, M Crooks)
Senior One: Antrim 3 (A Reilly. M Smyth, S McIlroy) Belfast Harlequins 4 (P Graham, R Quigley, P Brann, S McGrath); South Antrim 3 (R O'Neill, I Harbinson, C Henry) Cliftonville 1 (G Hamill); Raphoe 4 Newry 0
Irish Junior Cup quarter-finals: Annadale II 4 Glenanne II 3; Bangor II 1 Banbridge II 6; Pembroke II 2 Lisnagarvey II 3; Cork Harlequins II 1 Three Rock II 4
Irish Hockey Challenge semi-final: Kilkenny 3 Ballymena 0; Portrane 4 Mullingar 0