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Garvey's derby win helps keep dream of all-Ireland title alive


By Graham Hamilton

Glenanne may be 11 points clear at the top of the EY Irish Hockey League, but they are looking over their shoulders anxiously at the threat that is Lisnagarvey.

The Blues have dismantled two of their play-off rivals in Banbridge and Monkstown in the past two Saturdays, and with three games in hand and a home clash against Glenanne in April, there is every chance the Dublin high fliers could be overtaken in the run-in.

The odds may still favour Glenanne slightly but coach Errol Lutton must be pleased the way his Garvey lads have claimed decisive wins in the past fortnight as they bid to close what once looked an insurmountable gap.

Neither Bann on Saturday, nor Monkstown a week earlier, could cope with Garvey's high press in the early stages and both succumbed to three goals in the opening 12 minutes which effectively ended their challenges.

Bann did well to claw it back to 3-1 and perhaps might have closed the margin further, but it was too big of an ask against a team that looked solid in defence, creative in midfield and, in those early stages, clinical upfront.

Garvey fielded without Irish international defender Paul Gleghorne who is resting an ankle injury, but they still looked sharper than a Bann team that has seen so little action since the turn of the year.

That rustiness showed, particularly in defence, as they conceded those early goals to Sean Murray, Andy Williamson and Neal Glassey.

And although they rallied thereafter, they only managed to pull one back through Luke Witherow, and so remain out of the play-off places.

Garvey start eating into their backlog on Wednesday with a home game against mid-table Annadale followed by a trip to Cork C of I on Saturday, and their target is two wins to keep the pressure on a Glenanne side who swept to a 5-1 win at Cookstown on Saturday.

Shannon Boucher's double helped them on their way against a Tyrone side that has now conceded 37 goals in the IHL, a worrying trend.

Annadale almost snatched a home win over Cork C of I when David Robb had a goal ruled out right at the death, but the 3-3 draw at least keeps them well away from the relegation zone.

The Dale found it hard to contain Irish international John Jermyn who claimed a hat-trick.

Kilkeel and Instonians, meanwhile, closed the gap on Ulster Premier League leaders Bangor with away wins over Portadown and South Antrim respectively.

Luke Russell grabbed a hat-trick for the Mourne men in their 4-2 success while Chris Barnes and Gavin Leckey each had a brace in Inst's 5-0 win.

Mossley's 3-0 win over Belfast Harlequins dented the Deramore side's hopes of reaching the play-offs while, in the bottom-seven split, North Down saw off Queen's by 4-1.

Bangor's penalty shoot-out success over UCC, following a 2-2 draw, earned them a place in the Irish Hockey Trophy semi-finals, and joining them in the draw are Raphoe who shocked Newry with a 3-1 win at the border venue.

Finally, Three Rock Rovers won all six of their games in the European Indoor series in Tbilisi to clinch promotion to the third tier.

EY Irish Hockey League: Lisnagarvey 3 (S Murray, A Williamson, N Glassey) Banbridge 1 (L Witherow); Annadale 3 (J Taylor, R Carr, O Flack) Cork C of I 3 (J Jermyn 3); Cookstown 1 (J Haycock) Glenanne 5 (S Boucher 2, E O'Malley, J Rogan, G Shaw); Pembroke Wanderers 2 (A Sothern 2) Monkstown 2 (N Dee, M Romili)

Ulster Premier League: Portadown 2 (G Titler, R Scott) Kilkeel 4 (L Russell 3, G Russell); South Antrim 0 Instonians 5 (C Barnes 2, G Leckey 2, D Ward); Mossley 3 (J Robinson, A Bell, J Cathcart) Belfast Harlequins 0; North Down 4 (G McKeown 2, J Gilmore 2) Queen's 1

Irish Hockey Trophy quarter-finals: Newry 1 (D England) Raphoe 3 (T Orr, J Wilson, W Kilpatrick); Bandon 7 (C Sweetnam 4, D Jennings, A Smith, D Smith) Civil Service 3 (S Armstrong 3); Bangor 2 (J Easlie, R Burgess) UCC 2 (S Grace, D Wilson) Bangor won shoot-out 6-5; Portrane 2 North Dublin 2 (Portrane won shoot-out 5-4)

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