The Grange Road men may have relinquished their Irish Senior Cup crown but made a big statement of intent regarding Irish hockey’s top prize, as Cork native Bruton struck twice in a 4-2 Pool B success at Comber Road.
Banbridge boosted their hopes of joining them with a hard-fought 3-1 success at Railway Union, but they have yet to mathematically shake off Garvey despite a four-point advantage.
Cork C of I’s Derek Hales laid claim to the title of oldest goalscorer in IHL history, the 41-year-old on target in a 7-3 win at basement side UCD.
Pool A will be a three-way fight for the two available semi-final berths, Monkstown leading the way on 14 points after a comfortable 4-0 win at UCC. Pembroke Wanderers and Instonians are two points behind after wins over Annadale (4-0) and Cookstown (2-1) respectively.
In the women’s tournament, Pool A is done and dusted with Hermes and Pegasus both advancing to the last four. Hermes won 3-1 at Ballymoney while Hannah Grieve’s hat-trick underpinned Pegs’ 4-0 success against Lurgan. It rendered Railway Union’s 6-1 win over UCC at the Mardyke. It’s all to play for in Pool B with three sides in the mix going into the final round. Loreto ended Cork Harlequins’ interest with a 3-2 success on Leeside, backboned by a Niamh Small double. Quins had come from two down to level through Cliodhna Sargent and Karen Bateman but it wasn’t enough. UCD’s facile 10-0 victory at Greenfields keeps them in contention despite a four-point deduction for fielding an unregistered player, while Ards ended the hopes of their provincial rivals Ulster Elks by defeating them 4-2.
Domestically, Bandon broke Ashton’s hearts in the women’s Division 1 with Steph Peters converting their only short corner of the game to win 1-0 in a clash the Cork city girls had dominated. Steph’s sister Laura was Limerick’s hero, making it five goals in two games against Cashel/New Inn. Peters’ hat-trick disposed of the Tipperary side in the cup last week and two goals in the final 10 minutes rescued a 2-2 draw for George Blackwell’s girls in the Division 1 Challenge. Tipperary recorded their first success in that league as first-half strikes from Caroline Hosford and Elaine Bannon stunned Fermoy, for whom Aine O’Brien responded, 2-1. In the men’s top tier, Bandon’s 2-2 draw with Harlequins kept them in the hunt for an Irish Hockey League wildcard slot.