Banbridge seal vital IHL against Dubin rivals Monkstown at Havelock Park
Banbridge 2-1 Monkstown
Banbridge entertained Monkstown in their third Irish Hockey League game on Saturday evening in front of a packed Havelock Park clubhouse. Bann went into the game with a win and a defeat in the group stage and were eager to increase their points tally against a buoyant Dublin outfit who had beaten the locals in the semi final of the Irish Senior Cup last season. Bann called up schoolboy Ben Cosgrove into the match day panel as they were again missing Scott Forbes, Josh Moffett and Dermy Reay through injury.
Bann started the game very much in the ascendancy with Bruce McCandless and Stephen Dowds prominent down the right hand side of attack. It was Bruce who had the first opportunity of the game when he flashed a shot wide when really a cross to Magee at the back post may have resulted in a goal. Monkstown gradually picked up their game with some slick passing but never really threatened the Bann defence. Owen Magee then made a pacey run through the middle only for his shot to be saved by Monkstown goalkeeper David Fitzgerald. Mark Tumiltys side soon found the opening goal when Hugh McShane won a penalty corner and Ross McCandless duly dispatched the ball into the top left corner. Two minutes later Dane Ward had what looked like a certain penalty corner waved away by umpire Ciaran Bolger as Bann continued to take the game to the Dubliners.
The second quarter opened the way the first did with Bruce McCandless having another breakaway well saved by Fitzgerald. Phillip Brown then combined well with Bruce in the circle with the finish just escaping Banbridge. Monkstown slowly made ground into the Bann circle and it wasn’t long before Gareth Lennox was called upon to make a sharp save from the Monkstown attack. Into the second half and Bann soon doubled their lead when a great weaving run from Dane Ward down the left resulted in a reverse stick cross to Scott Caruth who had the easiest tap ins to put Bann two ahead. This seemed to breathe life into the visiting team as they began to develop a meaner attacking streak. Monkstown penetrated the circle on numerous occasions and a fine piece of team play resulted in Kyle Good pulling a goal back. This coupled with a yellow card a piece for each team created a spectacular finish in the final quarter.
Gareth Lennox was called upon to make two wonderous saves as Watkins and his fellow forwards battered the Bann goal. Monkstown first penalty corner was easily dealt with by the Bann defence and in the last seven minutes it was end to end top class hockey, a credit to both sets of players. Scott Caruth and Dane Ward both had chances to secure the win and likewise for Watkins and Cole at the other end for Monkstown. In the end a narrow win for Banbridge which blows the group wide upon after Cookstowns 5-1 victory over Glenanne in Dublin.
Banbridge 2nds 1-1 Annadale 2nds
Instonians 2nds 4-0 Banbridge 3rds
Banbridge 4ths 3-1 Annadale 4ths
Match Reports to follow…