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Raphoe and Portadown seal Ulster hockey cup final spot


Eyes down: Ards’ Chloe Brown protects the ball from Kathryn Jackson of Portadown

Eyes down: Ards’ Chloe Brown protects the ball from Kathryn Jackson of Portadown

Eyes down: Ards’ Chloe Brown protects the ball from Kathryn Jackson of Portadown

Ulster Hockey has finalised its five festive finals after the last pieces of the jigsaw were completed yesterday afternoon.

Raphoe and Portadown won their respective Linden Cup semi-finals at Deramore and now its full steam ahead to the double-header women's Denman Ulster Shield final followed by the men's GOC Estate Agents Kirk Cup final on Boxing Day.

The following day it's the women's Ulster Senior Cup final at Havelock Park and the men's double-header Linden Cup final followed by the Sussex Regiment Cup final is at Deramore on New Year's Day.

Fans, though, had to wait almost 150 minutes to get a goal yesterday, with Raphoe and South Antrim failing to score in normal time or extra time - Raphoe winning 11-10 on penalty strokes - and Portadown's John Quail claimed the winner one minute from the end of the second semi against Campbellians.

The only other games to beat the frost and snow over the weekend were the Premier League clash between Belfast Harlequins and Lisnagarvey which the Blues won 8-0, and the Senior One clash at Bangor when the Seasiders came back from a goal down to beat Portrush 3-1.

Irish international striker Timmy Cockram led the way for Garvey with a four-goal haul to take his tally to 16 this season and there were goals for Andy Forrest, James Lorimer, Daniel Buser and Peter MacDonnell.

Aaron Kerr gave Portrush a seventh minute lead but a double from Ryan Burgess and one from James Mottenshaw ensured Bangor turned things round.

Across the border, the delayed Irish Hockey Trophy Pool A game between Leinster giants Pembroke Wanderers and Monkstown went ahead under the Serpentine Avenue floodlights on Saturday evening and it was the visitors who romped to a 5-1 success.

That puts the current all-Ireland champions top of the pool on 10 points, with Pembroke and Instonians on eight and Annadale still in contention on seven.

Monkstown look favourites to qualify for the semi-finals again, but both Ulster clubs have still to play Pembroke and the outcome of those results will ultimately decide who goes through too.

The only women's game in Ulster to survive on Saturday saw North Down narrow the gap on Armagh at the top of Senior One with a 2-1 win at Larne.

Ards were disappointed, however, at the decision to abandon their Premier League game with Portadown after only eight minutes when they were leading 1-0. "We have trained and played in worse underfoot conditions and nothing had changed in the first eight minutes of the game," said captain Naomi Elliott.

"The pitch at last year's Ulster Shield final at Lisnagarvey was worse so we were very disappointed as it was our last outdoor game before this year's decider with Pegasus on Boxing Day."

Ards are still waiting to find out if international striker Chloe Brown will make the European Championship trip to Vienna in February or if she will be part of Ireland's World League 2 preparations. Brown hit 22 goals in six games in Ards' second division triumph in Hungary last season.

Belfast Telegraph