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Banbridge set for double Pembroke clash as they extend run

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Attack: Bruce McCandless of Banbridge ventures forward

Attack: Bruce McCandless of Banbridge ventures forward

Attack: Bruce McCandless of Banbridge ventures forward

Banbridge set up a second semi-final showdown with Pembroke within the next three weeks by stretching their unbeaten run this season to an amazing 34 games.

Mark Tumilty's side had already qualified for next Saturday's Irish Senior Cup semi-final against the Dublin giants and they duly booked their place in the last four of the Irish Hockey League against the same opposition by topping Pool B with a 5-2 win over Three Rock at Havelock Park on Saturday.

It has been a wonderful season so far for Bann but that crushing success over Three Rock ranks alongside their very best.

The Dublin side had already out-muscled Lisnagarvey in the IHL and it seemed they would do the same to Bann when Peter Blakeney deflected in Luke Madeley's penalty corner to give them a third-minute lead.

But Dane Ward levelled matters from Peter Brown's through ball and, after Bann squandered a penalty stroke earned by the persistence of Fraser Mills, they took the lead through Stephen Dowds from a penalty corner won by Jonny McKee's fine run, and Neil Gilmore got the third from a flowing movement.

Joe Brennan pulled one back and Bann keeper Gareth Lennox needed to pull off three saves but then Owen Magee's wonderful shot on the reverse, followed by Ward's second, killed off the Dubliners and ensured top spot.

Garvey miss out despite winning 3-1 at Cork C of I, as do Instonians, whose understrength side lost 5-2 at Pembroke.

Annadale made life difficult for Pool A winners Monkstown, holding them to 3-1, while Cookstown beat UCC 3-2 in the other game.

In the Premier League, Kilkeel's 5-1 win over Mossley, coupled with Harlequins' 5-1 win over Newry on Thursday, means it's still very tight at the bottom. But Bann go to Annadale tomorrow evening knowing they are in sight of landing the title.

Meanwhile, the celebrations began at South Antrim who clinched the Senior One title with a 7-0 win at Antrim, with nearest rivals Portadown losing 4-3 at Queen's.

Irish Hockey League Pool A: Pembroke 5 (M Elliott 2, T Hill, H Spain, M O'Connor) Instonians 2 (A Patterson, S Redpath); Cookstown 3 (K Black, M Crooks, J Ames) UCC 2 (P Catchpole, W Brownlow); Monkstown 3 (R Sykes 2, G Watkins) Annadale 1 (P Thompson).

Pool B: Banbridge 5 (D Ward 2, S Dowds, N Gilmore, O Magee) Three Rock 2 (P Blakeney, J Brennan); Cork C of I 1 (S Parker) Lisnagarvey 3 (J Bell, J Lynch, A Williamson); Railway Union 9 UCD 2.

GOC Estate Agents Ulster Premier League: Kilkeel 5 (W Annett 2, E Agnew, L Russell, G Russell) Mossley 1 (N Glassey)

Senior One: Portrush 1 (A Kerr) North Down 4 (G Bailie 2, R Poots 2); Raphoe 5 (G Patterson 2, S Cleverley 2, M Leckey) Campbellians 0; Queen's 4 (S McQueen 2, G Leckey, C Ormonby) Portadown 3 (J Curran, M Bennett, P Quaile); Antrim 0 South Antrim 7 (S Watt 3. P Maguire 2, A Glass, C Henry).

Belfast Telegraph