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Bann and Ballynahinch on the charge


Early strikes: Jamie Wright scored two in two minutes
Early strikes: Jamie Wright scored two in two minutes

By Graham Hamilton

There was plenty to celebrate around Banbridge and Ballynahinch over the weekend in a defining week on the national front.

However, there wasn't so much to cheer at Cookstown, Civil Service or Instonians, with results not going their way at all.

Firstly Bann, who turned the tables on Pembroke following last week's disappointing 5-2 defeat by slamming them 6-1 at Havelock Park, guaranteeing them a place at the end-of season Irish Champions Trophy play-offs on their own ground.

Jamie Wright's quickfire double had Bann two up inside two minutes and Eugene Magee's 20th goal of the season was followed by teenager Mark Cowan's first IHL goal and a superb double from Johnny McKee before Harry Spain got Pembroke's consolation.

Bann are almost certainly going to face Three Rock Rovers in those play-offs at the start of May at Havelock Park with Lisnagarvey up against Glenanne unless the final round of fixtures on Saturday April 24 throw up some shocks.

Ballynahinch's 4-2 success against Limerick in the Irish Hockey Challenge final was their third trophy of the season, having already bagged the Linden Cup and the Intermediate League title.

And now Willie Cairns and Mark Brown's lads can start preparing for a return to senior hockey next season.

They trailed early on at Pembroke's Serpentine Avenue ground but Matthew Martin and Scott Leitch turned things round before William Edgar's second half double ensured the 4-2 success.

But Cookstown's IHL top-flight status now hangs in the balance as a heavy 8-2 defeat at Three Rock Rovers means they are now in bottom place on goal difference from Cork C of I with Dublin YMCA one point better off.

It means the Tyrone lads will have to better C of I's result on Saturday, with the Reds hosting Banbridge and Cork hosting Three Rock, while YMCA have the arguably easier task of taking on Pembroke.

Yesterday Civil Service lost 3-1 to Waterford in the Irish Hockey Trophy final after conceding three first half goals, leaving them too much to do in the second period.

And Instonians II lost 4-1 to Three Rock Rovers II in the Irish Junior Cup final after falling four behind early on to a team very much enjoying home advantage.

But credit goes to both to having reached the deciders of national competitions.

Domestically, Newry Olympic won the Mourne derby by inflicting a rare home defeat on Kilkeel, with Keith McWilliams scoring twice, and that completes the Ulster Premier League programme for the season.

Kilkeel now turn their attention to the Anderson Cup quarter-final second leg tie against Banbridge at Havelock Park tomorrow evening (8pm), knowing that they have a six-goal advantage.

In Saturday's Sussex Regiment Cup Queen's beat South Antrim 3-1 while North Down and Mossley shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw at Comber.

EY Irish Hockey League: Banbridge 6 (J Wright 2, J McKee 2, E Magee, M Cowan) Pembroke Wanderers 1 (H Spain); Three Rock Rovers 8 (L Madeley 2, B Walker 2, J Hosking, M English, K Mullins, H Morris) Cookstown 2 (C Anderson, M Kerr)

Ulster Premier League: Kilkeel 2 (J Aiken, M Henning) Newry Olympic 3 (K McWilliams 2, N McKnight)

Sussex Regiment Cup: Queen's 3 (J Hermon, R Kelly, B Alford) South Antrim 1 (T Curragh); North Down 2 (J Gilmore, G McKeown) Mossley 2 (J Robinson 2)

Irish Hockey Trophy: Civil Service 1 (D Whittington) Waterford 3 (B Johnson 2, H McCarthy)

Irish Hockey Challenge Cup final: Ballynahinch 4 (W Edgar 2, M Martin, S Leitch) Limerick 3 (V Biais 2, N Eacratt)

Irish Junior Cup final: Instonians II 1 Three Rock Rovers II 4

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