Men's Irish Hockey League final
Lisnagarvey 1 (Timmy Cockram) Pembroke 4 (Alan Sothern 3, Maurice Elliott) Alan Sothern’s hat-trick secured back-to-back Irish Hockey League titles for Pembroke as clinical precision and body on-the-line defending gave them an emphatic-looking final scoreline.
For Lisnagarvey, they put it up to the national champions, earning nine corners which, had their routine found holes in David Harte’s armoury, could have made this a sterling contest.
As it was, the big stopper kept numerous efforts at bay while Ronan Gormley took one effort off the line and Steven Arbuthnot dinged the post in the first half when just one goal separated the sides.
But Pembroke never trailed and looked to always have an extra gear when it came to the game’s key moments.
They showed serious early intent. Davey Williamson saved twice inside a minute from Maurice Elliott and Alan Giles, who started like a house on fire.
Alan Sothern delightfully dinked past the first runner and smashed home the first goal from a corner to give the Ballsbridge club the lead in the third minute lead but Timmy Cockram – the eventual man-of-the-match, whipped his back into the tie within three minutes with a low corner strike of his own. His battle in the first quarter with Adam Pritchard was a key one, the frightening pace of both players making for a superb contest.
The latter shut down three flashing runs before Cockram decided to try his luck down the left flank.
It was a fascinating first period, more akin to rugby with long breaks for each set-piece and a couple of injuries to stretch a bench already shorn of Gordon Elliott, Justin Sherriff and Tim Lewis. But when the ball was in play, there was some supreme spurts of action.
The second Pembroke goal was a perfect case in point. Mark Raphael had foraged dangerously on the right but Conor Harte did excellently to get his body position right to block out Peter MacDonnell and launched a trademark counter-attack.
Giles hared down the right, found Patrick Good who returned the favour to take out Williamson and his goalward prod was nudged over the line by Maurice Elliott.
The second quarter was more circumspect, turning to a more cat-and-mouse style tussle while Alan Sothern (shoulder-barge), Patrick Martin (not retreating) and Ronan Gormley (diving tackle) all saw green.
Nonetheless, there were still chances. Steven Arbuthnot banged the post while Johnny Bell’s slide from the left was almost flipped over David Harte.
Pritchard, meanwhile, found himself at right-wing and launched a sublime overhead the way of Andy McConnell who Pembroke’s third corner which Johnny Gray took off the line from Conor Harte’s drag.
The corner contrast, though, was never as stark as the start of the second half; David Harte denied three corners in quick succession at the start before a little switch left was slammed home by Sothern for the game-breaking goal.
Pritchard and Conor Harte shut down another pair of corners before Sothern was given a golden chance for his hat-trick. Harte’s drag was saved excellently by Williamson but Maurice Elliott’s poke caught a foot. Sothern, though, flicked wide with nine minutes to go.
He need not have worried, though. Two minutes from time Patrick Good chased what looked a well and truly lost cause, recovered inches from the corner flag and steadied to sweep to Sothern at the circle’s edge with Garvey’s defence understandably scattered and he finished calmly.
For Good it was a sweet moment. With injuries abounding, increased game time saw him step up to the plate, playing a hand in three goals on Saturday and making vital interventions to his side’s two goals from play today.
Conceding nine corners on the day meant it was not the most polished performance but when the key moments came, Pembroke showed all the aces against a Lisnagarvey looking to reach the high standards of yore. They are on their way but the Dublin 4 side are still very much the best around.
Pembroke: David Harte, Alan Giles (capt), Craig Fulton, Ronan Gormley, Conor Harte, Maurice Elliott, Patrick Conlon, Andrew McConnell, Adam Pritchard, Patrick Good, Alan Sothern Subs: Antoine Bruneau, David Molloy, Ken Treacy, Scott Furlong, Mick O'Connor
Lisnagarvey: Davey Williamson, Brian Waring, Johnny Bell, Mark Robinson, Jason Lynch, Peter MacDonnell, Mark Raphael, Timmy Cockram, John Gray (captain), Steven Arbuthnot, Mark Daniel Subs: Patrick Martin, Glen Whitten, Stuart McNiece, Stephen Hunter, Greg Thompson
* For more of Adrian Boehm's photos from the IHL Final, click here while Tom Daly's photos from the game are here. To see interviews with Pembroke's player-coach Craig Fulton and Lisnagarvey's captain Johnny Gray, click the videos below. There are also interviews with Pembroke's Alan Giles here and Colin Stewart speaking about his final involvement in Irish hockey here