Having been given the nastiest of the double weekend ties, David Hobbs’ side might have just hoped for respectability having taken big beatings at Bann in particular in recent seasons.
But this year the Garryduff men have emerged as title contenders and to only take a single point from the games will rankle.
They built a 3-1 first quarter lead against national champions Monkstown at Rathdown on Saturday through Philip Brownlow, Julian Dale and Andrew Daunt but eventually fell 4-3, also seeing a late goal correctly disallowed.
Against Bann yesterday, Stephen Parker twice had C of I in front but twice Stevie Dowds levelled for the Ulster men in a 2-2 stalemate.
It leaves C of I in fourth, six points behind ‘Town after six rounds. However, with both the leaders and third-placed Bann due in Cork later in the season, C of I can take solace from knowing they can go toe-to-toe with the early pace-setters having also pushed second-placed Lisnagarvey hard in a 4-2 reverse a week ago. Pembroke’s mixed early season form continued as they ended a worrying losing streak with a 3-1 success over Annadale but lost by the odd goal in three to Three Rock Rovers on Saturday. Garvey quietly moved up to second with wins over Cookstown and Glenanne.
In the Irish Junior Cup, Cork C of I notched a superb 2-1 win at Belfast Harlequins despite travelling minus key players while Cork Harlequins’ 5-0 win at Trinity was some welcome good news for their men’s section. Bandon are also through after defeating NICS 3-0 but UCC fell 5-3 at Pembroke.
Cork Harlequins again had the Indian sign over local rivals UCC and moved up to fourth in the women’s EY Hockey League with a 2-0 success over the students.
Hermes made it five wins from five with a 3-2 success over Railway Union. Chloe Watkins and Naomi Carroll had them two up inside five minutes but Railway came back strongly and Anna O’Flanagan’s ninth of the season ultimately proved the difference. Ulster Elks are still chasing hard after beating Ards 2-0 while champions Pegasus will hope their stuttering start is behind them after they defeated basement side Greenfields 4-0 for a first win of the campaign.
In Munster, the women’s Division 1 title race between Catholic Institute and Bandon is heating up after both remained the only unbeaten sides in the league. Munster U16 starlet Lauren Ryan’s two first senior goals helped Insta see off Cork C of I 3-0 while Katie Desmond was again on the scoresheet in Bandon’s 3-1 success over Waterford. Cashel New Inn got their maiden win of the campaign by dispatching Waterford 4-1.