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Hockey: Gallagher saves day for Newpark in drama-filled win over Kilkenny

STEFAN Gallagher produced a pair of brilliant penalty saves on a dramatic night to hand Newpark a place in the All-Ireland Championships for the second successive year, denying Kilkenny College.

They emerged through the qualifiers yesterday in a shoot-out after Evan Garland had popped up two minutes from time to earn the Blackrock school a last-gasp reprieve.

And Irish underage international Gallagher saw it home as he twice guessed correctly, picking off a stick save to his right and then the crucial save with his boot for a 4-3 success.

It looked a long way off for Newpark earlier in the tie as Kilkenny had bossed the game. The pair had both earlier beaten Dundalk GS 3-0, making this a winner-take-all affair and the Cats were in the ascendancy when Sean Lambe slotted home for a half-time lead.

Jack Walsh snuck in to tap home an equaliser on the counter, but Eamon Walshe struck home his third strike of the day with an emphatic straight hit.

It looked to be enough until Johnny McCormack played a raking ball into the circle which wreaked havoc and Garland finished off from close range.

Newpark will be joined by St Columba's who had a slightly easier route into the marquee event - which takes place in late October - as they emerged from a group with King's Hospital and Mount Temple.

Powered by Ross Canning, Columba's got the better of KH in a 2-1 result, while Temple set up a straight shoot-out when they ran up a 5-2 win in Whitechurch Park. But their showdown proved a one-sided affair as the Rathfarnham school notched up a 5-0 win. They complete Leinster's contingent of five sides with Wesley, St Andrew's and Sutton Park pre-qualified by virtue of their cup and league successes last season.

ALL-IRELAND QUALIFIERS: Group One: Newpark 3 (M Flanagan, A Ramsey, E Garland) Dundalk GS 0; Kilkenny College 3 (E Walshe 2, C Dick) Dundalk GS 0; Newpark 2 (J Walsh, E Garland) Kilkenny 2 (E Walshe, S Lambe). Standings: 1. Newpark 4pts (+3), 2 Kilkenny 4pts (+3), 3 Dundalk GS 0pts (-6) Newpark beat Kilkenny 4-3 on penalty strokes

Group Two: St Columba's 2 Kings Hospital 1; Mount Temple 5 King's Hospital 2; St Columba's 5 Mount Temple 0. Standings: 1 St Columba's (+6) 6pts, 2 Mount Temple 3pts (-2), 3 Kings Hospital 0pts (-4).