With Banbridge not playing their game at Kilkeel, three points from this match gave Garvey top spot but they did not play like possible champions, labouring for the full 70 minutes before coming out with the vital win.
Part of their problem must have been the 17-0 victory at Comber Road before Christmas as Garvey never found any type of rhythm and when they cleared chances they either squandered them or the Civil Service keeper, Sam Brown kept them at bay with a series of superb saves.
Totally dominant for almost all of the match, Garvey began strongly and it took Jason Lynch only five minutes to gain their opening penalty corner.
However, Brown brought off his first brilliant effort from the Cockram drag flick and three minutes later, Timmy put his second set piece high over the cross bar.
In the 14th minute Garvey did breech the Civil Service defences when after a save by Brown from Williamson, Peter MacDonnell was on hand to shovel the ball over the line from very close range.
With unending possession, Garvey should have put the game beyond doubt but they saw a procession of shots saved or frantically cleared by the stubborn home defenders.
The second half proved to be little better as a spectacle as Garvey again had 90% possession but could not put the game beyond the reach of the resilient Service team.
In the 46th minute Civil Service were presented with a golden chance to grab an unlikely equaliser but their effort went tamely past the post with the Garvey defence struggling.
A fifth set piece in the 54th minute was also unsuccessful and in the 59th minute Garvey had a goal disallowed, Timmy Cockram seemed to have scored but the umpire ruled the effort out.
At last, in the 68th minute, Mark Raphael teamed up with Timmy Cockram and after a good move, Cockram forced the ball past the gallant Brown to secure the crucial three points for Garvey and take them into pole position in the Premier league with six games remaining.
Garvey will have to raise their game against Instonians next Thursday at Shaws Bridge (8.15pm) and Harlequins at Comber Road on Saturday at 2.30pm.