Lisnagarvey win Ireland’s men’s EY Hockey League

Lisnagarvey survived a final day scare to land Ireland’s men’s EY Hockey League title following a heart-stopping final day of the season, taking a European spot into the bargain

They needed just a draw to secure the title ahead of Three Rock Rovers and they looked to be cruising with 15 minutes to go as they led 4-3 against Banbridge while the Dubliners – who will play at the EHL Cup in Egara next week – trailed against Monkstown.

But three wild minutes made for a tense close to an epic campaign as Rovers turned things around with Ben Johnson and Harry MacMahon both scoring to land a 3-2 success in the dying seconds.

Simultaneously, Banbridge levelled through Jonny McKee from the penalty spot to make it 4-4 while Garvey needing to hold on for the last eight minutes.

There were Bann chances but their Ulster rivals hung tough to allow James Corry to lift the regular season title for the third time in this full-season format.

Both sides will now advance to the semi-finals of the EY Champions Trophy playoffs with Banbridge facing YMCA and Glenanne playing Monkstown in the quarter-final matches.

For Lisnagarvey skipper James Corry, he said the only word they got of what was happening elsewhere came in the closing 10 minutes.

“We heard Three Rock had won 3-2 and we had just gone 4-4 with Jonny McKee scoring that stroke. It was basically just to hold out and hope for the best but I think we managed it well; there wasn’t that many chances for Banbridge. Obviously, there were a wee bit of nerves! It was always going to be tough and Bann would never make life easy for us!

“You could nearly tell by the atmosphere of the crowd Three Rock had won because the Garvey fans were very quiet.”

Looking back on the season as a whole, Corry cited their 2-2 draw with relegated Corinthian as the result which lit the fire in the team after a rollercoaster mid-season run which saw the lead change hands in the league for six successive rounds. 

After that, Garvey were imperious, crucially beating Three Rock and running up five successive wins, scoring 23 goals in the process.

“That result against Corinthians where we were 2-0 up with two minutes to go, we always said we hope don’t lose the title on that one. It gave us the kick up the backside that we needed. Any big game we have had in the past few weeks, we seem to have dealt with them pretty well. 

“I don’t know what it was; every team will have those off days but we played well that day and just got caught those last few minutes. We bounced back superbly and credit to the boys.

“The depth in the squad; we have had a lot of players out with injury and Covid and have used about 22 boys. When people aren’t stepping up, others have stepped up to the task. We were missing James Lorimer and Andy Williamson for the Three Rock games, our two flickers, but Ollie Kidd and Andy Edgar stood up and got one each. The younger boys have that bit more experience and can deal with the pressure.”