Leinster Senior Mills Cup, semi-finals:
Both Pembroke and Fingal over-turned Saturday league defeats to Corinthian and Monkstown, respectively, to take their place in the Mills Cup final on St Patrick's Day after taking the spoils at Serpentine Avenue this afternoon.
For Pembroke, the result broke the hoodoo that has seen them fall at the hands of the reds three times in the last year as Alan Sothern, in spite of a relatively quiet afternoon, struck twice inside the opening 20 minutes.
From then on, Corinthian awoke from a slumbering first half to fire a barrage David Harte's way in the second period but found him equal to seven penalty corners and a number of open play chances to shut out the visitors.
Sothern had provided Pembroke with the perfect start, rolling home from close range after a high-speed move, started at right back by Adam Pritchard, found its way to Maurice Elliott. The trickster out-foxed a couple of defenders on the right endline and just as space opened for a shot, he picked out Sothern for a simple finish.
And the hitman doubled his record from the penalty spot after Chris Pelow was called for a shove on Ronan Gormley. It was a personal triumph for Sothern as he went powerfully high to beat Ross Murray who had won the duel a day previously, though the keeper guessed right and got his glove to the ball.
Pembroke were in complete control to this point, playing neat, designer hockey. The reds only penetrated the circle for the first time in the 23rd minute and only took one shot, the last touch of the half when Brian Doherty's corner was comfortably saved by Harte.
Darren Kimfley showed some delightful touches but the fact they occurred on halfway rather than in the danger-zone told much about the state of play.
The second half, though, proved a different matter. Lucas Piccioli's snap-shot 30 seconds after the break served notice and he had two further attempts in successive minutes. Andrew Cronje inexplicably deflected wide from a corner move on the slide from three yards.
And Pembroke were forced even deeper when Justin Sherriff was sin-binned for a barge on Alan Blennerhassett; the pair had tangled in the game's early throes...
Corinthian failed to capitalise as the 'Broke rode the punches, bouncing off the ropes to win their sole corner. In response, Kimfley was pulled back when primed to shoot and a sixth and seventh reds corner went a begging but chances from play were limited to crash balls as time wore on.
On the break, Pembroke had two chances in the last five minutes to secure the tie but neither were taken, nor needed, and yet another cup final beckons.
Earlier, Fingal managed to hold out the Monkstown second half charge in a similarly divided fixture with the Airport side making all the early running. They were 3-0 up by the break and while the league strugglers looked nervy in the face of a Town onslaught, they limited clear shooting opportunities despite spending vast periods of time inside their own 25 and held on for a 3-2 win.
Dicksboro man Tom Manning broke the deadlock when he finished off a neat move with Paddy Gahan and Gary Sharman influential. Chris Neville doubled the difference, getting the final touch to a corner move after David Bane and Derek O'Gorman had played a one-two at the top of the D.
These strikes, though, served as a mere appetiser for the game's defining act as Gahan robbed the ball to play in Sharman who smashed a superb reverse-stick shot late in the first half for 3-0.
Monkstown roared back to life in the second period, Andy Ewington whizzing a flick past Nigel Grothier's glove to awaken the vocal support and they spent the remainder of the half probing the Fingal circle.
Gareth Watkins fizzed an open side shot just past the post while a couple of others went close but the Fingal defence, typified by Andy Marshall's big tackles, managed to ride their luck and held firm despite a lack of ball.
Ian Allen did make it a nervy finish when he flicked home a rebound after Andy Ward's deflection bounced off Grothier straight to the experienced forward and he calmly finished. Dave and Eamon Bane both had rushes of blood to hand the Town possession deep in Fingal territory but it came to naught and Fingal were into their second Mills Cup final. For Monkstown, its a third semi-final defeat in the past five years.
Fingal 3 (Tom Manning, Chris Neville, Gary Sharman) Monkstown 2 (Andy Ewington, Ian Allen); Pembroke 2 (Alan Sothern 2) Corinthian 0
* For more of Adrian Boehm's photos of Fingal vs Monkstown, click here