Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Irish Hockey League: Forrest fires the winner

Lisnagarvey scorer Andy Forrest (left) gets a pass away under pressure from Dublin YMCA's Stephen Parker
Lisnagarvey scorer Andy Forrest (left) gets a pass away under pressure from Dublin YMCA's Stephen Parker

Lisnagarvey 1 Dublin YMCA 0: For the second week in succession an Ulster team sent Leinster League leaders YMCA back down the road to Dublin with their tail between their legs.

A vastly understrength Lisnagarvey won Saturday's Irish Hockey League Pool A opener by the only goal in the game from Andy Forrest, just seven days after Annadale eliminated the Dubliners from the Irish Senior Cup on a |4-1 scoreline.

YMCA, with four Australians in their ranks, had high hopes of making an impression at national level this season but those aspirations are now in tatters.

It was an unfamiliar Garvey team that took the pitch at Hillsborough but coaches Kyle Lunn and Nigel Howard had little scope to play with as Irish international Timmy Cockram was still nursing an injury and midfielders Mark Raphael and Mark Robinson were both unavailable.

It meant that inexperienced players like Adam McCann, Richard Arneill, Adam Fallis and Stuart McNeice got more pitch-time than normal and they certainly rose to the occasion, chasing every ball and putting the Dubliners under pressure.

It's unusual to see Garvey teams facing a rearguard action but when Andy Forrest scored the all-important goal after just seven minutes, they closed up shop.

“With key players missing, we weren't too concerned about earning a bonus point for a win by three clear goals,” admitted Garvey's young captain Johnny Bell.

“We had to dig in deep and it was certainly backs to the wall for a long time.

“But we were dangerous on the break and could have scored more goals but for goalkeeper Iain Walker who pulled off a series of fine saves in the second half,” he said.

Garvey could have found themselves trailing in the opening minutes but Geoff Walker sent his effort wide.

But within a few minutes they scored the all-important goal after a tremendous run from Daniel Buser which Forrest finished off as it crossed the line.

YMCA played some attractive hockey without ever troubling the Garvey defence, and became quite physical in the second half.

Irish international Johnny Bruton sent a reverse stick shot flashing over the bar and then Garvey survived three penalty corners at the end of the third quarter.

As the game wore on and YMCA pushed forward, Garvey looked much more threatening and ran up a series of penalty corners.

In the final minute Garvey should have had a penalty stroke when Buser was upended but advantage was played instead and the chance lost.

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