O’Brien the Three Rock hero once again as Rovers complete 2018 with sixth trophy

Irish EHL representatives Three Rock Rovers retained the Neville Cup title, prevailing via a shoot-out on St Stephen’s Day at Serpentine Avenue for the second successive season.

A year ago, goalkeeper Shane O’Brien was the final hero and he was once again key to their success against Pembroke in normal time and a shoot-out and he repeated the feat against Corinthian.

It made it six trophies in a remarkable 2018 for the Dublin club on a formative day as Rovers fielded seven teenagers, showing their strength in depth as they adjusted their deck due to rule restrictions on how many front-line players they can use in the competition this season.

Ali Empey had given them a 1-0 half-time lead when he cleaned up with an excellent upright-reverse stick penalty corner rebound following a Peter Blakeney drag-flick that Ross Murray denied.

Dan Treacy levelled with 10 minutes to go from a melee in the circle, ultimately sending the game to a shoot-out. There, O’Brien kept out two efforts while Ali Empey, Luke Adams, Peter Blakeney and Garry Ringwood slotted home for a 4-2 victory.

It retained the Neville Cup and added to the EY Champions Trophy, Irish Senior Cup, Mills Cup, National Indoor Trophy and EuroHockey Indoor Challenge II won this calendar year.

Afterward, Rovers’ assistant coach Gareth Borland said it was a gritty performance from the side, largely taken from the second team, to win out once again.

“It wasn’t the most fluid of performances at times,” he said. “With the mixture of players, it was hard to draw them all together but they fought well and great to come out on top.

“Shane [O’Brien] has done brilliantly and it’s great for him to do it two years in a row. It’s becoming a habit for him!

“The younger lads stepped up in the shoot-out; they are probably more used to it from schools finals with less fear and they put them away nicely!”