Impressive C of I make it three in-a-row

They say you don’t win trophies at Christmas but you do in Munster hockey — and Cork C of I will be hoping a third straight Peard Cup success is the start of bigger and better things to come for them.

Last year’s 4-1 victory over Quins was the season’s sole high point for the blues as their fiercest rivals completed a Munster league and cup double before notching the unlikeliest of Irish Senior Cup successes.

There are always swings and roundabouts between these two but C of I player/coach David Hobbs will be hopeful that yesterday’s win at Farmer’s Cross can be a springboard for his side, given they still have three league showdowns with Quins to come.

There were mitigating factors; Quins missed the Lombard brothers David and Paul, but C of I were down Andy Herbert and Philip Smith. That left an old-and-new feeling to their backline, with Richard Sweetnam (17) flanked by Derek Hales (39) and Nigel Buttimer (36).

C of I took the lead in fortuitous fashion 11 minutes in; Hobbs crashed a ball in from the left which went in off Jason Black for an own goal.

Quins came roaring back and David Egner was unlucky not to score after getting two bites at the cherry, while David Eakins saw his drag-flick, bound for the top corner, plucked away to safety by C of I keeper Billy Lynch.

Ireland U18 hitman Gary Wilkinson served notice of his talents when flashing a reverse wide and he made no mistake on 28 minutes when he was picked out by a precise David Harvey pass, sliding a backhand shot to the bottom corner of Nigel Bryan’s goal.

A yellow card for Rob Hobbs gave C of I the chance to kill the game off but Bryan got his body behind a stinging reverse from Simon Wolfe. At the other end, Eakins wasted a glorious chance when he topped his shot after his blocked drag-flick had fallen back into his path.

After a third-quarter lull, the game exploded into life as Wilkinson deflected Stephen Sweetnam’s delightful backhand cross onto the post, with Richard Lynch failing to pounce after C of I cleverly worked a second chance.

And it was Sweetnam’s trickery that killed the game with 10 minutes to go. Picking up a pass from Hobbs in the circle, he was closed down by Bryan but used his skills to wrong-foot the keeper and engineer the space to reverse home from a tight angle.

Quins finally got some reward after C of I’s impressive skipper Alec Moffett was sin-binned for tackling with his back stick.

The hosts won another corner which Eakins crashed against the upright, with Harvey preventing Jason Black from potting the rebound. But C of I went to sleep from the subsequent long corner and although Lynch saved well from Rob Hobbs and Eakins, David Egner made it third time lucky to net a consolation for Quins.

CORK HARLEQUINS: N Bryan (GK), D Eakins, P O’Driscoll, J Hobbs, D Hobbs, R Hobbs, J Black, M Black, P McLaughlin (capt), D Egner, S Nicholson, D Farrell, J Sweetnam, C Ross, S Thompson, D Beamish.

CORK CHURCH OF IRELAND: B Lynch (GK), A Burns, N Buttimer, R Sweetnam, D Harvey, A Daunt, D Hobbs, A Moffett (capt), G Wilkinson, P Sweetnam, D Hobbs, R Lynch, S Wolfe, S Sweetnam.

Ulster Kirk Cup final result: Cookstown 3 (S Smyth, G Cuddy, K Black) Lisnagarvey 1 (T Cockram).


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