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Postponed cup ties adds to growing fixtures backlog

 

By Graham Hamilton

Hockey in both Ulster and Ireland have been handed another headache after more than 60% of senior games were postponed at the weekend due to the frosty weather.

The EY Irish Hockey League is currently trying to play catch-up after the first few games of the season were postponed due to the 'umpires strike' and now the loss of most of the Irish Senior Cup's 2nd round ties leaves them trying to find new dates in what already is a hectic schedule.

Five of the eight games, four of them cross-border clashes, were called off, leaving precious few dates available before the next round is due - there are IHL games scheduled for the next three weeks and then there is the Christmas break followed by the international team heading off to the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia.

The Ulster Premier League is also hit, with two of the four weekend games needing to be rearranged but also four of their teams now needing to find new dates for their postponed cup ties.

And with the league operating on a bigger than usual 14-team basis for the first time, there's little room for manoeuvre if the programme is to be completed in time for the play-offs that decide who gets into the all-Ireland leagues next season.

Just three games went ahead in the cup and two in the Ulster Premier on Saturday, although both IHL games in Dublin survived on Sunday.

Annadale are kicking themselves after missing the chance of beating Leinster provincial side YMCA in the cup - they needed a late Rhiley Carr penalty stroke to force a 1-1 draw but then missed the first three in the shoot-out to bow out.

And Kilkeel paid the penalty literally when they lost 7-2 at Cork C of I, conceding six of them from set pieces, with internationals Julian Dale ending up with four and John Jermyn two.

The two Ulster Premier games which survived the weather saw Bangor and Newry taking full advantage.

The Seasiders were able to extend their lead at the top of the table as Ryan Burgess converted two penalty strokes on the way to a 4-1 success at Antrim.

And Keith McWilliams also bagged a brace of goals as border club Newry eased away from the trouble zone with a 4-1 win over bottom club Cliftonville.

Meanwhile Three Rock Rovers moved up to second place in the Irish Hockey League when they crushed Cork C of I 6-0 in Dublin, the Munster lads showing signs of their exertions against Kilkeel 24 hours earlier.

And Pembroke swept aside bottom of the table Railway Union 5-2 in Dublin in the other game yesterday.

Irish Senior Cup 2nd round: Annadale 1 (R Carr) Dublin YMCA 1 (S Hyland), YMCA win shoot-out 3-0; Cork C of I 7 (J Dale 4, J Jermyn 2, P Sweetnam) Kilkeel 2 ( Stevenson, E Agnew); Monkstown 1 (D Cole) UCD 0; Lisnagarvey v Railway Union (postponed); Three Rock v Cookstown (postponed); Mossley v Belfast Harlequins (postponed); South Antrim v Pembroke (postponed); Queen's v Glennane (postponed)

EY Irish Hockey League: Pembroke 5 Railway Union 2; Three Rock 6 (B Walker 2, P Blakeney, J Mullins, C Empey, L Madley) Cork C of I 0

Ulster Premier League: Newry 4 (K McWilliams 2, D England, M Russell) Cliftonville 1 (D Hurley); Antrim 1 (A McBride) Bangor 4 (R Burgess 2, A Watson, A Creane); Portadown v Civil Service (postponed); Raphoe v North Down (postponed)

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