Stroke of misfortune
Hockey IHT Final: Portrane 2 Bandon 2 (Bandon win 3-1 after shootout)
Portrane suffered penalty stroke heartbreak at the weekend when going down to Bandon 3-1 in a shootout to decide the 2018 Irish Hockey Trophy champions.
This was a fantastic match that had everything, but ultimately the silverware eluded Portrane as they chased victory in this competition for the first time in their 99-year history.
They were up against a very strong Bandon team who have so far enjoyed an outstanding season, having already won the Munster Division 1 title and with a Munster Senior Cup Final to look forward to next weekend.
It was Portrane, though, who began to find their stride a little quicker and created a number of early chances.
They then took the lead when Imran Khan collected a ball near the byeline and through some outstanding stick work he worked his way into the D to fire a strong shot at the Bandon goal. It was well saved by the keeper, but Imran had followed up his first shot and was on hand to put the rebound away for a 1-0 lead.
Within five minutes, Portrane were in dreamland when Imran again broke into the D and after dummying the first defender he left the keeper with no chance as his shot rocketed into the top corner of the Bandon net.
This was a better start than Portrane could have hoped for, but at this stage of the game it certainly wasn't against the run of play.
However, within a few minutes they suffered a major blow when player/coach Muhktar Ahmad suffered a deep cut on his chin.
In his absence Bandon took advantage of the disruption caused to Portrane's defensive organisation to force themselves back into the match.
They pulled a goal back in the 20th minute with a shot from the first short corner of the game which just beat Dan Graham in the Portrane goal.
Just past the 25-minute mark, Bandon took advantage of a couple of slips in the Portrane defence to equalise with a neat reverse finish into the corner.
There were no more scores for the rest of the half as both teams struggled to come to terms with the extreme weather conditions and the match was finely balanced at 2-2.
As the second half got under way the rain started to ease slightly, but with so much at stake both teams seemed content to sit back and attempt to strike on the break.
There is no doubt that Portrane created the clearest goal-scoring opportunities, but their inability to force any short corners meant that they were always going to struggle to turn their possession into goals.
In the last few minutes Portrane again came close with a deflection from Ossain Elmiger and a reverse shot from Imran that just cleared the bar, but as the final whistle blew the scores remained locked at 2-2, with the dreaded shootout to follow.
Bandon kept their cool in the ensuing shootout and ran out 3-1 winners, finally ending their disappointment of the last few years.
Even though they came out on the wrong side of a close result, it was a great day for Portrane. Their match-day squad contained four teenagers and another five in their early 20s, so hopefully there will be more finals and success in the seasons to come, especially if they achieve Division 1 status next season.
PORTRANE: Dan Graham, Rory McKeon, Peter Conway, Brian MacMahon, Riley Shoebridge, Muhktar Ahmad, Chris Neville, Ossain Elmiger, Imran Khan, Colin Neville, Sean Graham. Subs: Ronan McGeehan, Neill Kidd, Stephen Neville, Rory Govan, Shane Healy, Anthony Carroll, Seamus Stone, Conor Meyler.