Eugene Magee magic brings Irish Cup back to Banbridge
Banbridge 3 Monkstown 1
Eugene Magee's unquenchable thirst for success continued in Dublin yesterday when he struck twice to spearhead Banbridge's second Irish Senior Cup final triumph in the past three years.
Magee, with 249 international caps and a host of medals under his belt, showed his quality yet again as Mark Tumilty's lads beat last year's winners 3-1 to regain world hockey's oldest knockout trophy.
Magee's second half double started the celebrations and also guaranteed them qualification for the end-of-season all-Ireland play-offs from which a place in Europe next season is at stake.
Magee's second goal was something to behold. International goalkeeper David Fitzgerald blocked the striker's penalty corner but as the ball came back at him at waist height, Magee whacked it home on the volley.
"I just hit it on instinct," said Magee. "It came back at me at the right height, and it's great when shots like that come off."
Johnny McKee's early goal, a tap-in following Matthew Allister's cross, settled Bann nerves and they tore Monkstown to shreds in the first half with Allister twice and Mills coming close.
Magee's first goal came three minutes after the break but Monkstown quickly responded with David Carson scoring from an almost impossible angle.
However, 20 minutes from time Mills burst into the circle and squared unselfishly for Magee to sweep home.
Monkstown threw everything at Bann but Matthew Bell, Kyle Marshall and Philip Brown were outstanding and Lennox stood tall at their penalty corners.
"We deserved to win and it sets us up nicely for Wednesday night's clash against Lisnagarvey in the Irish Hockey League," said delighted coach Tumilty.
The trapdoor hasn't yet opened on Instonians in the Irish Hockey League, but once again they ended up being narrowly beaten when they deserved something.
They led Cork C of I by a William Robinson penalty corner rebound but conceded two goals in the last four minutes to Simon Wolfe to lose 2-1.
It means Inst would need to win their final three games and hope either UCD or Railway lose all theirs to avoid the drop.
It looked good after Robinson put them ahead and with keeper Peter Bingham in fine form, it seemed they were destined for a valuable win.
But, as has happened too often in the past, they conceded two late goals and now survival looks beyond them.
Meanwhile, the Ulster Premier League programme was completed, with Annadale's 2-1 win over Raphoe guaranteeing them runners-up position, and they now take their place with Belfast Harlequins in next weekend's Provincial Play-offs.
Conor Roberts and Callum Robson scored their goals against a Raphoe team already relegated while Campbellians lost 5-3 at Civil Service - Chris Barnes scored four - and will now be involved in a promotion play-off with either Antrim or Queen's from Senior One.
South Antrim's 5-3 win at Bangor means they are Senior One champions with a game to spare and will take their place in the top flight next season.
Irish Senior Cup final: Monkstown 1 (D Carson) Banbridge 3 (E Magee 2, J McKee)
IHL: Three Rock 6 (L Madeley 2, R Canning, J Hosking, M Darling, P Blakeney) Railway 2 (K Springett, M English); UCD 1 (J Duncan) Glenanne 5 (S O'Donoghue 2, S O'Connor, N Byrne, S Brownlow); Instonians 1 (W Robinson) Cork C of I 2 (S Wolfe)
Premier League: Annadale 2 (C Roberts, C Robson) Raphoe 1 (I McGonigle); Civil Service 5 (C Barnes 4, S Armstrong) Campbellians 3 (J Easlea 2, J Clarke)
Senior 1: Bangor 3 South Antrim 5 (W Phillips 2, C Henry 2, P Marshall); Antrim 1 (S McIlroy) Queen's 3 (M Getty, G Leckey, C Anderson)