Lisnagarvey 3-1 Banbridge
Lisnagarvey put in the ultimate team performance as they beat Banbridge 3-1 to claim the first EY Champions Trophy title, capping the new-look competition’s first year with a high-octane, thrill-a-minute final with Banbridge.
The Hillsborough side won the regular season with plenty to spare, making them hot favourites for this title at the start of the weekend and they duly swept into the final with a 3-1 success against Pembroke in Saturday’s semi-final.
Banbridge reached the final courtesy of a shoot-out win over Monkstown, their nemesis in the all-Ireland final in the last three seasons, but found the final hurdle too high for a fourth successive campaign.
Michael Watt gave 'Garvey the lead in the 11th minute when he redirected Timmy Cockram’s excellent disguised pass from the top of the first penalty corner.
Banbridge replied when Matthew Bell’s drag-flick hit James Lorimer illegally on the goal line, leading to a penalty stroke which Stevie Dowds converted, sending John Tormey the wrong way.
But parity lasted barely a minute as Garvey worked a great move down the right wing to Paul Gleghorne, making a rare foray forward, and he delivered a swift pass into the middle that invited Daniel Buser to dive on to and rocket into the roof of the net.
From there, the game got tetchy with Neal Glassey, otherwise immaculate at the back, and Fraser Mills picking up yellow cards in the closing phases of the first half.
Mills’ foul drew lasting damage as it came with a penalty corner that fell for Matthew Nelson to dink over Gareth Lennox from close range for a 3-1 half-time advantage.
And that was not to change in the second half as Garvey defended brilliantly while Bann could not take the chances that did come their way. Jonny McKee’s brilliant run and chip shot was batted away by Tormey while the forward also went over the bar.
Three late penalty corners also went incomplete as Garvey charged each one down, getting over the line with daylight between the teams.
It means Lisnagarvey qualify for next season’s Euro Hockey League as Ireland’s number one representative while Banbridge will be the number two representative. What tier they play in will depend on their performance in two weeks time in the Euro Hockey Club Champions Trophy in Glasgow.
Lisnagarvey: J Tormey, J Lorimer, J Bell, R Arneill, S Murray, T Cockram, S Arbuthnot, D Buser, N Glassey, M Watt, P Gleghorne
Banbridge: G Lennox, J McKee, Peter Brown, M Bell, B McCandless, S Dowds, E Magee, Philip Brown, D Carlisle, K Marshall, O Magee