In photos: Josh Moffett's double helps Banbridge hang on to seal Kirk Cup win over Lisnagarvey
Banbridge 3-2 Lisnagarvey
Banbridge retained the Millar McCall Wylie Kirk Cup with a thrilling 3-2 win over Lisnagarvey in the final at Stormont to send the Hillsborough side crashing to their first defeat of the season.
Garvey had twice come from behind in beating their arch rivals earlier this season in both the Irish Hockey League and the Irish Cup but there was to be no repeat on this occasion as Bann just about hung on.
They stormed into a 3-0 interval lead after starting the game the stronger side but their opponents staged another stirring comeback, pulling two goals back in the last 18 minutes of an absorbing contest.
There was almost a sting in tail in the dying seconds when Garvey were awarded two last-gasp penalty corners but Bann held on to lift the trophy for the 23rd time.
Triumphant captain Eugene Magee said: "We know they are a very strong side and they even came back from 4-0 down against Glenanne earlier this season in the league."
"So, we were just pleased to hold out and we knew that 2-0 or even 3-0 is nothing in a game of hockey but our defence were outstanding and did the business when it mattered.
"Our goalkeeper Gareth Lennox, was superb and he made a several great saves when they threatened yet another comeback against us.
"Hopefully, this will give us just the kick we need going into the second half of the season, after making a disappointing start to the IHL."
Lisnagarvey defender Jonny Bell was disappointed at the outcome but proud of his predominantly young team mates.
The Ireland captain added: "We showed a lot of character to get back into the game and we could have nicked a draw at the end and forced penalties but it wasn't to be.
"Banbridge are an experienced team with a lot of internationals we are still a young squad that is learning, so we're not going win every week.
"I think the way Bann performed in the first half of the season was maybe a bit of a smokescreen - they are a quality side and we, probably didn't create enough chances in the first half and that has cost us but you get days like that."
Both teams went in search of an early goal and it was Garvey who had the first chance in the fourth minute when a great diagonal ball from Bell was met by Dan Nelson but his first-time effort went narrowly past the upright.
Then at the other end, three minutes later, Peter Brown fired just over the crossbar as the game continued to ebb and flow.
In the 18th minute, after Bann had lost possession in their own half, Ben Nelson fed Bell whose pass was collected by James Lorimer, joining the attack but his shoulder-high volley flashed past the upright.
Bann then hit the Hillsborough team with a three-goal blast in the space of 10 minutes to leave the 31-times winners with a mountain to climb.
All of the goals were of high quality, the opener from Johnny McKee in the 21st minute coming after the first penalty corner of the game as the Ireland striker got on the end of a pass from Sam Farson to fire home from close range.
Eight minutes later, Josh Moffett finished off a flowing three-man that had involved Peter Brown, Farson and Jamie Wright, to double the holders' lead, again from a few yards out.
Four minutes before half-time, it was 3-0 as a brilliant through ball from Magee found Moffett and he made no mistake, giving Garvey keeper James Milliken no chance.
Moments before the end of the third quarter, Lisnagarvey threw themselves a lifeline when, after a spell of concerted pressure, Andy Williamson sent a penalty corner flying high into the net to pull one back.
Lennox then came to Bann's rescue with several fine stops before he was beaten again with three minutes left when Daniel Nelson rolled the ball into the empty net after a swift counter attack which followed a penalty corner at the other end of the pitch.
With just 12 seconds left, Garvey were awarded a penalty corner but Alexander Tinney blocked Williamson's effort as the Banbridge players began to punch the air in delight believing the game was over.
But there was more drama to come as the ball had struck Tinney's shin so another corner was the outcome but this time it was blocked legally and the celebrations could begin in earnest after one of the best finals in recent years.
Banbridge: Gareth Lennox ; Luke Witherowe, Alexander Tinney, Johnny McKee, Peter Brown, Bruce McCandless, Jamie Wright, Eugene Magee (capt.), Philip Brown, Drew Carlisle, Owen Magee; subs: Luke Roleston, Sam Farson, Hugh McShane, Edward Rowe, Mark Cowan, Josh Moffett, Dane Ward.
Lisnagarvey: James Milliken; Jonathan Bell, Peter McKibbin, Mark McNellis, Andrew Edgar, James Lorimer, James Corry (capt.), Troy Chambers, Ben Nelson, Andy Williamson, Daniel Nelson; subs: Johnny Lynch, Scott McCabe, Harry Morris, Conor Quinn, Cole Chambers, Oliver Kidd, James Ritchie.
Umpires: Warren McCully, Ian Strange
Belfast Telegraph Digital