Luck deserts Instonians as relegation looms closer
If you are rooted to the foot of the table and desperate to get a win, that's when you need lady luck to take a shine on you.
But try telling that to Instonians as they squandered another chance to chalk up their first EY Irish Hockey league win of the season, going down 3-2 to Pembroke Wanderers with literally the last hit of the game.
It's the fifth time in nine outings that the Shaw's Bridge outfit have lost by the odd goal, and on at least three of those occasions they were well worth a win.
But their inability to put the game to bed is costing them dearly to the extent they go into the second half of the season five points adrift of Railway Union and seven adrift of the pack.
Steven Redpath's lads probably haven't had a better opportunity to break their duck as the Dubliners came north without international trio Alan Sothern, Kirk Shimmins and Maurice Elliott, but despite Stephen Kelso giving them an early lead they trailed 2-1 at the interval.
James Corry levelled with a penalty stroke and it seemed their pressure would finally tell.
But then it all went belly-up in the final two minutes when inspirational William Robinson was yellow-carded and Pembroke took advantage of the extra man with David Quinn scoring on the counter right at the death.
To make matters worse, Inst's next two games are against Dublin giants Monkstown on Saturday and current leaders Banbridge at home on February 11.
It wasn't exactly a good day for Bann, either, as they fell to their first defeat of the season, a 2-1 reversal at Three Rock Rovers.
They travelled without skipper Matthew Bell (ankle), Fraser Mills (broken knuckle) and Owen Magee, as well as international defender Drew Carlisle who was getting married later that day, hence the early 11.30am start.
Jody Hosking and Ben Walker gave Three Rock a two-goal lead before Jonny McKee finally pulled one back.
They still lead the way, though, as Monkstown crashed to a 4-3 defeat at Cork C of I, but only on goal difference to Ulster rivals Lisnagarvey who beat a considerably weakened UCD 2-0 with Ryan Getty and James Lorimer on the mark. It all means it's ever so close at the top with just two points separating the top five.
Meanwhile Cookstown seized the initiative in the Ulster Premier League when they beat rivals Annadale 3-1 to take revenge for their 8-1 humiliation in Boxing Day's Kirk Cup final.
Goals from Andy McWhirter, Mark Crooks and Greg Allen did the trick, and although Fergus Gibson replied for the Dale, their player/coach Peter Caruth was red-carded towards the end.
Mossley's Simon Todd was top scorer of the day, though, with four in Mossley's 6-2 success over North Down.
IHL: Three Rock 2 (J Hosking, B Walker) Banbridge 1 (J McKee); UCD 0 Lisngarvey 2 (R Getty, J Lorimer); Instonians 2 (S Kelso, J Corry) Pembroke 3 (J Ryan, P Good, D Quinn); Glenanne 5 (S O'Donoghue 2, J Brennan 2, D Keogh) Railway 4 (M English, K Springett, P Catchpole, S McKeever); Cork C of I 4 (J Jermyn 2, A Power, S Wolfe) Monkstown 3 (R Sykes 2, D Carson)
Premier League: Cookstown 3 (A McWhirter, M Crooks, G Allen) Annadale 1 (F Gibson); Mossley 6 (S Todd 4, C McLean, J Robinson) North Down 2 (S Dalzell, J Gilmore); Portadown 4 (M Bennett, J Curran, A Stevenson, S Johnston) Raphoe 3 (A Meehan 2, L Witherow); Harlequins 2 (J Hutchinson, L McClelland) Newry 2 (K McWilliams 2)
Senior One: Bangor 3 (D McClune, R Burgess, M McComb) Armagh 0; Portrush 4 Ballynahinch 5
Irish Hockey Trophy: Antrim 0 South Antrim 7 (C Henry 2, S Watt 2, H Cartmill, A Glass, J Brown); Queen's 2 (M Warnock 2) Bandon 2 (M Kingston, C Kingston) Queen's won 3-1 on penalty strokes.