Garvey run out of steam in Dublin

Lisnagarvey’s long season came to a somewhat disappointing end in Dublin on Saturday.

They lost a very intense Irish Cup semi-final to Railway Union by 3 goals to 2 and so failed to complete a very difficult ‘double’ having become All Ireland League champions last weekend.

In this match against a Railway Union team, which had not reached an Irish Senior Cup final since 1975, Garvey looked jaded after their efforts last week and although they fought to the finish they were just short of ideas and the hunger which was more obvious in their opponents.

Nothing should be taken away from the performance of the Garvey team throughout the season. In August, they had no coach or manager and were facing a difficult time until Kyle Lunn took over as coach along with the assistance of John Gray; Nigel Howard stepped in as manager and the team began to take shape under some calm, intelligent guidance and with the necessary team spirit a vital ingredient.

The squad has since lifted the All Ireland Championship and Kirk Cup; finished second in the Premier League and reached the semi-final stage of the Irish Senior Cup; a season to be proud of.

The semi-final at Belfield began with Railway taking the initiative and hitting the Garvey post in the second minute and three minutes later, following two fine saves by John Tormey, Karl Chappell found the net for the Dubliners to give them an early advantage in the 5th minute.

Garvey got themselves into the game in the 8th minute when they forced their opening penalty corner but the resulting switch to Steven Arbuthnot saw the shot blocked and cleared as Railway resumed their superiority as regards possession and purpose.

Following a good block by Railway keeper Stephen O’Keefe, his team occupied the Garvey half for a period and had a good chance go narrowly past the post with the Garvey defence exposed.

Railway were reduced to 10 players in the 25th minute and Greg Thompson shot over the bar in the 26th and Garvey’s second penalty corner was very well saved by the excellent O’Keefe in the 28th minute.

The Dublin side lost another player in the 31st minute but the tired looking Garvey team could not take advantage of the situation and were badly punished for their shortcomings when Railway grabbed the lead in the last minute of the first half. The goal came from Railway’s first penalty corner which was retaken. At the second attempt, Peter English beat Tormey with a blistering drag flick to take his team to a 2-1 lead at the interval.

John Tormey kept Garvey in the game in the 37th minute when he made a fine stick save from English’s second set piece and a minute later Garvey found themselves back on level terms. The equaliser came from their 3rd penalty corner which Timmy Cockram scored after O’Keefe got a stick on the ball but could not keep it out of his net.

At this point, Garvey, even without playing at their best, had every chance of winning as they went close but Daniel Buser and Cockram who were both denied by O’Keefe but having had a good ten minutes they then seemed to concede the midfield to their very eager and brighter opponents and Tormey had to be very alert to keep the score at 2-2 in the 56th minute.

Garvey had a couple of half chances during the last quarter when Cockram and Buser went close but the 67th minute saw the killer goal and it went to the more positive team. Railway were awarded a free on the edge of the Garvey circle and as the defence hesitated, Mark English with a great self free, worked his way into a scoring position and beat Tormey with a wicked cross shot leaving the Lisburn team with just three minutes to grab an equaliser.

They tried all they could but even against a Railway team which was again reduced to 9 players and had a great chance in the last few seconds when they forced their 5th and 6th penalty corners of the match. However, the final effort was superbly saved by man-of- the match O’Keefe and Garvey had failed at the semi final stage to complete the ‘Irish Double’

Garvey can now look forward to next season with the exciting prospect of the European Hockey League awaiting them.