Garvey cruise past South Antrim and set up final mission
Lisnagarvey set up a Kirk Cup final date with arch rivals Banbridge following an ultimately emphatic semi-final win over South Antrim at Stormont yesterday.
But the 6-0 scoreline didn't do justice to a battling display by the Lisburn team, who were cast as lambs to the slaughter by many hockey fans in the build up.
That was understandable for several reasons, not least because South play their hockey in the Ulster Premier League, the standard of which is much lower than Garvey face weekly in the IHL.
Add in the fact the Hillsborough outfit are averaging over six goals a game at the higher level and the pre-match predictions obviously favoured a much bigger win for Garvey.
Indeed, South Antrim had conceded 10 goals the last time the sides met less than a year ago in the Anderson Cup.
But the underdogs paid scant attention to the script as they put it up to their near neighbours for the bulk of the 70 minutes.
In fact, they were trailing only 2-0 with only 14 minutes remaining only to concede four times as Garvey put some gloss on the scoreline with a late flurry of goals.
South had a star performer in goalkeeper Mark Hutchinson, who repelled the Garvey strike force time after time when they breached the Lisburn team's rearguard, who performed heroically for long periods until tired legs took over in the closing stages of the game.
Lisnagarvey certainly treated their opponents with the utmost respect, fielding virtually a full-strength squad with only Ireland defender Jonny Bell rested from the line-up that had beaten Corinthian 6-2 in the league at Comber Road on Saturday night.
South gave as good as they got in the early stages of the game, restricting their more illustrious opponents to a couple of half chances with some resolute defending.
Hutchinson was called into serious action for the first time in the 17th minute when he saved Andy Williamson's penalty corner pile-driver at full-stretch, diving to his left after James Lorimer had fired over from an earlier set-piece.
South weren't just content to sit back and soak up the pressure that would inevitably come their way though.
Their captain and leading scorer, Chris Henry, did well to force his way into the danger area in the 22nd minute and his efforts yielded a penalty corner.
Wallace High School student Max Taylor, who was playing against several of his former team mates got in a shot which forced Garvey goalie James Milliken into a decent save.
It took the IHL leaders 25 minutes to break the deadlock as Cole Chambers finished off a fine passing move in clinical fashion.
With six minutes of the first-half left, Williamson made it 2-0 from a set-piece.
But the floodgates didn't open until the final quarter of the game, and Peter McKibbin added number three from another corner in the 56th minute.
Troy Chambers made it 4-0 two minutes later with a backhand shot then Mark McNellis netted a set-piece in clinical style.
Cole Chambers, Troy's older brother, wrapped it up with his second in the 66th minute - a fine solo effort after he drove in from the left before firing home.
Lisnagarvey: J Milliken; J Lynch, S McCabe, M McNellis, A Williamson, P McKibbin, H Morris, C Chambers, A Edgar, O Kidd; subs: J Corry, P Hunter, B Nelson, T Chambers.
South Antrim: M Hutchinson; S Hunter, J Moore, C Patterson, M Taylor, R Brown, J Brown, L Marshall, C Henry, J Patterson, P Milligan; subs: P Maguire, B Clarke, H Cartmill.
South Antrim 0