Friday 6 December 2019

Hockey: Banbridge bidding to get back on track

David Medcalf

A weekend of Irish Hockey League action brings the promise of tight third-round games all across the sweep from Lagan to Lee. And none is harder to call than the Corinthians against Banbridge tie at Whitechurch Park in Dublin -- a case of bewildered versus baffled.

Corinthians were left shell-shocked in the cup last Saturday as they blew a two-goal lead and conceded four in the final quarter against Glenanne.

Meanwhile, Banbridge gave Annadale an awful mauling everywhere except the score board with 'Dale keeper Johnny Moore crowning a match-winning display by saving a Ross McCandless penalty.

McCandless must be hoping that Reds' goalie Ross Murray is still off balance after letting Gary Shaw help himself to a quickfire hat-trick in the cup collapse.

The winners of the Whitechurch match will fancy their chances of advancement to the knockout stages from Pool A, currently topped by title holders Pembroke Wanderers.

The champs head for Shawsbridge in Belfast, where they suffered a rare defeat by Instonians on their previous visit during last year's campaign,and a repeat upset is by no means out of the question.

Former Irish captain Paddy Brown remains an imperious presence at the back for the northerners while Stuart McWilliams, Chris Kirk and William Robinson are all capable of finding the net.

The dog-eat-dog scramble that is Pool B features a rematch of last Saturday's cup quarter-final between Three Rock Rovers and Lisnagarvey but this time in 'Garvey's home lair at the Comber Road in Hillsborough.

Rovers were good value for their 3-2 victory in the knockout competition, but they could only manage a 1-1 draw midweek in Leinster fare against YMCA, Sven Galjaardt hitting their goal.

Match of the day is likely to be in Garryduff where Cork C of I entertain Glenanne in a match that may devolve into a battle of the set pieces.

The home team have long relied on John Jermyn to convert the corners while his international team-mate Stephen Butler has been doing the same for Glenanne over many years.

However, neither side is a one-trick pony. Nick Burns has begun to blossom in front of goal for CI while Gary Shaw's exploits against Corinthians underlined that they too are capable of scoring from open play.

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