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Cookstown slide towards relegation play-offs

By Graham Hamilton

Cookstown are in grave danger of getting sucked into the EY Irish Hockey League's relegation play-offs for the second time in three seasons.

The Tyrone lads lost 3-2 in the basement battle at Railway Union on Saturday, with the result the two are level on six points and trailing third bottom Cork C of I by six points.

Cookstown have now six games to save themselves, and will probably need to win around four to survive any play-off.

Bearing in mind they've won just one of their 12 IHL games to date, that leaves them with a lot to do in a tense run-in.

They always trailed Railway in Dublin, twice drawing level with goals from Ryan Millar and Stuart Smyth, but then losing out late on when Mark English slotted in the winner.

And with Cork earning an unexpected point against Lisnagarvey after a 3-3 draw, it means a sizeable gap has opened between the bottom two and the pack.

Garvey should have won in Cork but were pegged three times, with two John Jermyn penalty corners and an absolute stunner from Julian Dale.

Garvey's goals came from the Nelson brothers Daniel and Matthew as well as Daniel Buser, but the draw means that leaders Glenanne stretched the gap at the top to 10 points.

Glenanne, though, rode their luck against a determined Annadale who came roaring back from two Shane O'Donoghue penalty corners to pull one back from Peter Caruth before hitting the post in the final minute.

Banbridge's last game on their current playing surface at Havelock Park - the contractors move in today to start laying a new pitch - proved successful with a 3-1 success over Pembroke. They trailed right until the last quarter when Philip Brown converted a penalty corner and then a penalty stroke, with Johnny McKee getting the third in the dying seconds.

Meanwhile, Ryan Burgess scored twice to earn Ulster Premier League leaders Bangor a 2-1 win at Mossley, his second coming in the final minute.

Instonians, though, kept pace with a 2-0 win over Portadown.

Finally, Ballynahinch are into the Irish Hockey Challenge final where they will face Catholic Institute, following their shoot-out win over Cliftonville.

EY Irish Hockey League: Cork C of I 3 (J Jermyn 2, J Dale) Lisnagarvey 3 (D Nelson, D Buser, M Nelson); Railway Union 3 (W Fernandez, S McKeever, M English) Cookstown 2 (R Millar, S Smyth); Annadale 1 (P Caruth) Glennane 2 (S O'Donoghue 2); Banbridge 3 (P Brown 2, J McKee) Pembroke Wanderers 1 (A Sothern); Monkstown v Three Rock Rovers (postponed)

Ulster Premier League: Mossley 1 (H Dow) Bangor 2 (R Burgess 2); Instonians 2 (D Ward, G Leckey) Portadown 0; Belfast Harlequins 1 (M Patterson) South Antrim 1 (J Patterson); Antrim 2 (S Clyde, D Wilson) North Down 8 (J Bond 2, J Moore 2, R Linter, J Linter, J Green, G McKeown); Raphoe 0 Newry 2 (A Irwin 2); Queen's 7 (M Getty 2, A Doyle, F Harkin, R Blair, N Gamble. R Kelly) Civil Service 5

Irish Hockey Trophy semi-finals: Ballynahinch 1 (W Edgar) Cliftonville 1 C Arnott) B'hinch won shoot-out 3-0; Catholic Institute 5 Mullingar 2

John Minnis Estate Agents Burney Cup quarter-finals: Methodist College 1 RBAI 0; Regent House 1 Wallace High 8

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