Cork man Conor Harte hammered the final nail in Banbridge’s Euro Hockey League coffin for this season as his drag-flick completed a 6-2 win for Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles.
The win saw the Irish club eliminated from the competition following a 6-0 loss on Saturday to Poland’s WKS Grunwald Poznan in Barcelona.
For Harte and Racing, it meant they advance to Easter’s KO16 with something to spare, joining twin brother David — with Dutch club SV Kampong — in the knockout stages of the competition.
Conor said it was a matter of “job done” despite what he described as “two mediocre performances”.
“I don’t think we got anywhere near to our level,” he told the Irish Examiner. “We showed glimmers of it in patches but it’s not good enough for 10 or 15 minutes out of the 60.”
As for Bann, they featured several of Harte’s international teammates but struggled in the absence of the injured Eugene Magee and Johnny McKee.
They also came in under-cooked following the umpires’ strike that left them with just one Irish league match in the build-up to Barcelona.
“You know what you are going to get with an Irish team, especially Banbridge who are going to fight until the last minute and that’s what they did. In fairness to them, it wasn’t ideal prep. I felt for them missing out on two weeks of the Irish Hockey League.”
Bann coach Mark Tumilty added it is “something Hockey Ireland have to look at” as, even with a full set of league games, they would have played three fewer league games than their rivals.
Closer to home, Cork C of I’s men’s hopes of a first win of the EY Hockey League season were dashed at the death as Owen McElhinney snatched a late equaliser for Annadale.
C of I had led 2-0 and 3-1 before being pegged back but looked like they had done enough when Julian Dale put them back in front at 4-3 with four minutes to go only for McElhinney to tie the game up.
In the women’s competition, Cork Harlequins continued their decent start to the season as a Naomi Carroll goal nine minutes from time saw them draw 1-1 with Ulster’s leading club, Pegasus.
After a scoreless first half – in which Emily O’Leary went closest for Quins — Pegs went in front via former Irish skipper Alex Speers before Carroll tied things up.
It means the Farmer’s Cross side sit in a share of top spot with Pegasus and Ards who drew with Railway Union.
In Munster women’s Division One, UCC made another major statement of intent with their most significant win from their first three games to date, beating Catholic Institute 5-1.
Laura Foley had given the Limerick side a 10th-minute lead but Louise Egan and Kate Harvey quickly turned things around to make it 2-1 at half-time.
The same duo then grabbed their second goal each before Clodagh Moloney — against her former club — netted a corner.
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