EY Provincial Playoffs Match Reports

The first XI travelled to Old Alex College, Dublin for the EYHL play-offs last weekend for a gruelling 4 match series to attempt to qualify for the semi finals.

With player/coach Steven Redpath and midfielder Adam Kyle unavailable along with recent recruits Dane Ward and Chris Barnes being ineligible, Instonians had to shuffle the pack, bringing in the experienced Julian Lewis, flying home Jonny Beckett from university in England as well as promoting schoolboys Ben Rose and Nathan Oakman to the squad.

 

First up on the Saturday morning was Ulster rivals Mossley, who only heard of their participation 4 days previously following Kilkeels withdrawal.

Instonians started the game on the front foot and completely dominated the first half scoring 3 goals through captain William Robinson (2) and Gavin Lecky. The score remained at 3-0 throughout a more even second half where Instonians managed the game well.

The second game of the day came against UCC. Instonians ran out comfortable 5-0 winners against the students with goals from Chris Kirk, Gavin Lecky, Rob McCaughan and John Watson (2). Instonians arguably played their best attacking hockey of the season in this match and confidence was high going into the tougher matches against Dublin sides Corinthians and UCD on Sunday.

First up on Sunday was Corinthians who had former international Jonny Bruton in their line up. Corinthians started the game well putting pressure on the Inst backline at every opportunity. Instonians defended resolutely throughout the game however with 2 minutes remaining finally conceded. The Corinthian players celebrated wildly believing they had done enough for the win. However straight from the restart, Ross McKnight made great ground down the left hand side, the ball was worked across the pitch to Corry, who found McNiece on the byline who in turn found Kirk at the back post who slotted in for a late late equaliser that put Corinthians out of the tournament and set up a winner take all game with UCD on Sunday afternoon.

Instonians have had a few dramatic games against UCD in recent years and this was to be no different. The game started slowly with both teams struggling to find any rhythm after the gruelling schedule. UCD took the lead from a broken down penalty corner in the first quarter. Instonians responded right on the half time when William Robinson converted a penalty corner. This gave Instonians a fantastic boost going into the second half and indeed they played some great hockey and really took the game to their opponents. They were rewarded when Kelso converted at the back post from a Watson cross to make it 2-1. The tide turned however in the 4th quarter with UCD pushing Inst deep back into their own 25. Inst absorbed the pressure well, defending wave after wave of UCD attacks. The students pulled their keeper with 5 minutes remaining to have an extra player outfield. This almost backfired when Robinson sent Lecky racing clear from the half way line, but a defender managed to get back and clear off the line. With a minute remaining UCD were awarded a dubious penalty corner. John Watson managed to charge it down to the relief of the Instonians support. The final whistle was greeted with jubilant scenes with Instonians managing to qualify for the semi finals ahead of their fancied Dublin opponents. After finishing a disappointing 3rd place in the Ulster Premier League, this was a much better showing from the Instonians team who have been inconsistent in their performances throughout the regular season.

A huge well done to the coaching and management team of Jamie Ireland, William Brown, Richard Palmer and Dane Ward who helped make the weekend a successful one.

The squad now travel to Cork to take on YMCA in the semi final on Saturday 28th April at 2.pm at Garryduff. If successful, the final is at 2pm on Sunday 29th April at 2pm at the Mardyke Arena UCC for a place in the EYHL for the 2018/19 season.

Squad: Sam Brown, Andrew Corry, Stuart McWilliams, William Robinson, Ross McKnight, Ben Palmer, Julian Lewis, Chris Kirk, John Watson, Stuart McNiece, James Palmer, Gavin Lecky, Stephen Kelso, Sam Brown, Rob McCaughan, Jonny Beckett, Ben Rose,Nathan Oakman.