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Stevenson rockets Kilkeel to league summit

 

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Mark Stevenson

Mark Stevenson

Mark Stevenson

Champions Kilkeel are back on top of the Ulster Premier League as the programme moves into the new year.

A crushing 6-0 success over Raphoe at the Mourne venue saw them leapfrog fellow title contenders Mossley, Bangor and Instonians to go a single point clear as we approach the halfway stage when the league changes to a top-six and bottom-seven format.

With South Antrim running up a comfortable 8-0 success over bottom team Antrim in the only other scheduled Ulster Premier League game, it means that we now know five of the teams that will be facing each other in the top-six split which kicks in soon.

Kilkeel, Instonians, Bangor, Mossley and now South Antrim are definitely through and it looks like North Down will pip Newry Olympic for the final slot as they are expected to beat Antrim at the Comber venue this Saturday.

The remaining games in the first half of the programme are to be completed within the next fortnight.

And that leaves the way open for the beginning of the two-legged Anderson Cup competition.

This starts on Saturday January 12 with four ties, with the second legs to be played the following midweek.

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The four winners then join the four teams who received byes for the quarter-finals.

The split in the Premier League will be slotted in before the Irish Hockey League's second tier competition - which involves Ulster trio Instonians, Kilkeel and Bangor - resumes after its winter break in the middle of Feburary.

And also the EY Irish Hockey League which resumes a fortnight earlier at the start of February.

Mark Stevenson led the way for Kilkeel on Saturday against Raphoe with a hat-trick.

And Luke and Gareth Russell as well as Mark Henning were also on the scoreboard, leaving the Donegal side with a long journey home after a heavy loss.

South's goals against Antrim came from Chris Henry, Paul Maguire, and Paddy Cochrane who each scored twice and Mark Conn and Adam Glass who got one apiece.

The five Junior League Cup finals were staged at Stormont Playball on Saturday with trophies being presented to Lisnagarvey II (Junior One); Mossley II (Junior Two); Mossley III (Junior Three); CI II (Junior Four); and Portrush II (Junior Five).

Penalty run-ins were needed in three of the deciders - Garvey II against Banbridge III after a 1-1 draw; Mossley II against Bangor II after a 5-5 draw; and CI II against North Down IV after a 3-3 draw.

Stuart McQueen had given Garvey an early lead only for Ross McCandless to level matters and force the shoot-out which the Blues won 3-1.

It was a good day for the Mossley club, with both their 2nd XI and 3rd XI landing trophies.

Jordan McCrea's last minute penalty gave their 2nd XI a single goal success over Newry Olympic II while the 3rd XI needed the shoot-out.

But it wasn't so good for the North Down club whose IV XI lost on a shoot-out to CI II and their V XI lost 3-1 in their decider against Portrush II.

Ulster Premier League: Kilkeel 6 (M Stevenson 3, L Russell, G Russell, M Henning) Raphoe 0; South Antrim 8 (C Henry 2, P Maguire 2, P Cochrane 2, M Cullen, A Glass) Antrim 0

Junior League 1 Cup final Lisnagarvey II 1 (S McQueen) Banbridge III 1 (R McCandless). Garvey won 3-1 on penalty runs

Junior League 2 Cup final: Bangor II 5 (M Lappin 3, D McClune, R Coughlan) Mossley II 5 (S Todd 4, R Lyall). Mossley won 4-3 on penalty runs

Junior League 3 Cup final: Mossley III 1 (J McCrea) Newry Olympic II 0

Junior League 4 Cup final: North Down IV 3 (C Bell, A Tate, J Purvis) CI II 3 (D Hurley 2, T McClintock). CI won 3-0 on penalty runs

Junior League 5 Cup final: North Down V 1 (M Murray) Portrush II 3 (B McMullan 2, O Farrell).


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