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Five-star Garvey quickly out of blocks to close gap on leaders

By Graham Hamilton

Lisnagarvey's five-star performance in Dublin yesterday afternoon saw them crush Monkstown 5-1 to move right back into EY Irish Hockey League title contention.

Three goals in the opening 12 minutes put the Blues firmly in control against a team who often give them trouble but who offered little resistance this time.

And with leaders Glenanne held to an expected 2-2 home draw against Cork C of I on Saturday and second placed Three Rock Rovers also dropping two points when held to a 1-1 draw by Annadale yesterday, things are looking a lot rosier for Errol Lutton's lads.

Garvey now move up to third and although they remain 11 points adrift of Glenanne and four behind Three Rock, they have three games in hand ... and Glenanne have still to come to Hillsborough.

It was skipper Daniel Buser who led the way with a goal in the fourth minute and that was quickly followed by one from Andy Williamson from Peter McKibben's cross and another from Matthew Nelson - all in the first quarter.

Williamson's second, this time from a penalty corner, made it four before the interval to ensure the outcome was done and dusted. Although Guy Sarratt pulled one back in the second half from a penalty corner, Neal Glassey wrapped things up with the best goal of the game from a flowing six-man move.

Annadale player/coach Peter Caruth is sure to be pleased with a valuable point at Three Roc, especially as John Taylor's equaliser came right at the death.

It was a close game throughout, with defences on top, but it seemed Peter Blakeney's goal three minutes from time was going to decide the game until Taylor produced the leveller in the final minute.

Banbridge's home match with Railway Union was called off due to a snowbound pitch, as was Friday evening's game against Garvey.

And the Pembroke and Cookstown game was also a weather casualty yesterday, further adding to the growing backlog in the IHL.

Indeed the Tyrone men have yet to hit a ball in earnest in 2018, such as been the stop-start programme and the bad weather. Meanwhile, Bangor remain top of the Ulster Premier League as the first phase finishes and the top seven and bottom seven split begins.

They won 3-1 at Newry on Saturday to open a four-point gap at the top, although they have five away games in their final six, including trips to main challengers Kilkeel, Instonians, Belfast Harlequins and Mossley.

Goals from Adam Watson, Ryan Burgess and Simon Cox did the trick, although the border men kept in the hunt thanks to Matthew Russell's goal.

The Quins shocked Instonians on Saturday at Deramore when late goals from Luke McClelland and Chris Lemon turned a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 win to keep alive slim hopes of reaching the IHL qualification play-offs.

Chris Barnes had struck twice to give Inst a 2-1 lead, one from a penalty corner and the other with a lovely backhand shot, but the late show from the Quins spoiled their day.

Adam Stevenson found his form in front of goal as Portadown beat Raphoe 4-1 to ensure a place in the top seven at North Down's expense.

And the only goal of the game from Ward Phillips was enough to earn South Antrim a win over Mossley and also keep them in the top seven split.

EY Irish Hockey League: Three Rock Rovers 1 (P Blakeney) Annadale 1 (J Taylor); Monkstown 1 (G Sarratt) Lisnagarvey 5 (A Williamson 2, D Buser, Nelson, N Glassey); Glenanne 2 (G Shaw, S O'Donoghue) Cork C of I 2 (M Gallagher, J Jermyn); Banbridge v Railway Union (postponed); Pembroke Wanderers v Cookstown (postponed)

Ulster Premier League: Belfast Harlequins 4 (L McClelland 2, D Coates, C Lemon) Instonians 3 (C Barnes 2, D Ward); South Antrim 1 (W Phillips) Mossley 0; Newry Olympic 1 (M Russell) Bangor 3 (A Watson, R Burgess, S Cox); Portadown 4 (A Stevenson 3, J Brown) Raphoe 1 (T Orr).

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