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Bottom club Inst blow big opportunity to climb clear

By Graham Hamilton

Instonians and Lisnagarvey both squandered the chance to make inroads in the EY Irish Hockey League and the outcome is that the Ulster duo are falling adrift of their targets.

The Belfast side could have, and should have, beaten Dubliners Railway Union at Shaw's Bridge but missed the opportunity when going down 4-3. They now find themselves firmly at the foot of the table and in grave danger of going straight back down again following last season's promotion.

And Garvey slumped to their second successive league defeat when they went down 3-1 to Glenanne in Dublin and now the current all-Ireland champions find themselves away back in fifth place and outside of the end of season play-off places.

With Banbridge's game against Cork C of I called off on the Friday due to frost and to prevent the Munster side having a wasted journey north, it means that the pendulum has swung away from the Ulster clubs, with Monkstown now taking over at the top and Railway and Glenanne now a comfortable five points clear of bottom club Instonians.

First that crucial six-pointer between Inst and Railway which the Belfast side had within their grasp but allowed themselves to be shunted off track by the team sitting immediately above them.

They led through William Robinson who scored from a second phase penalty corner but then slipped 2-1 behind and made matters worse by having a penalty stroke saved by Railway goalkeeper Stephen O'Keefe.

Matthew McCord did level matters from a second penalty stroke and also scored late on, but in between Mark English completed a hat-trick for the Dubliners in a bizarre finish when a handful of yellow cards were dished out.

To rub salt in the wounds, two other teams in the trouble zone - Glenanne and Pembroke - chalked up positive results to leave Inst five points adrift, a position they hardly deserve to be in considering they have yet to suffer a heavy defeat.

Glenanne's 3-1 success over Garvey was unexpected but it highlighted the unusual lack of clinical finishing which has been a feature of the Ulster club's recent games - they found it difficult to get the ball past inspired goalkeeper Leo Micklem and paid the price.

"It was a frustrating result, for we played some superb hockey and created a lot of chances, but unfortunately we found the Glenanne keeper in inspired form," said Garvey defender Jonathan Bell. "We'll take this one on the chin and turn our focus to next week's Irish Senior Cup."

Meanwhile, Annadale and Cookstown continue to lead the way in the Ulster Premier League following comfortable wins over Newry and Mossley respectively.

The Robson brothers Michael and Callum were both on the mark as the Dale beat Newry 4-1 at the border venue while the Tyrone mean won 3-0 on their travels.

There were Irish Hockey Trophy first round wins for Bangor and North Down but two other games involving Ulster clubs were postponed.

IHL: Glenanne 3 (S O'Donoghue, R Rixon-Fuller, G Shaw) Lisnagarvey 1 (N Glassey); Instonians 3 (M McCord 2, W Robinson) Railway 4 (M English 3, P Catchpole); UCD 1 (J Henry) Monkstown 3 (D Carson 2, L Cole); Three Rock 2 (K Mullins, M Darling) Pembroke 2 K Shimmins, A Sothern); Banbridge v Cork C of I (postponed)

Premier League: Portadown 0 Harlequins 0; Kilkeel 7 (J Aiken 2, M Stevenson 2, G Niblock, R Cunningham, P Gordon) Raphoe 0; Newry 1 (C McKnight) Annadale 4 (J Cox, M Robson, A McKibben, C Robson); Mossley 0 Cookstown 3 (K Black, M Rollins, M Kerr)

Senior One: Ballynahinch 3 Portrush 3

Irish Hockey Trophy: Bangor 5 (R Cunningham 2, R Burgess 2, M McComb) Cork H'quins 1 (J Hobbs); North Down 5 (J Gilmore 3, D Shepherd 2) Armagh 1 (J Gray)

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