Three Rock back on form for major Euro challenge

by Stephen Findlater

Three Rock Rovers came back twice in the first quarter from a goal behind to beat Banbridge 5-2 with a sharp performance as they bounced back from last week’s shock opening loss to newly-promoted UCD.

Bruce McCandless gave Bann the perfect start when he turned and shot home after collecting a great ball from Magee. But the lead lasted for just 30 seconds as Rovers went straight to the other end and Harry Morris tapped in at the far post for the equaliser.

In the 16th minute, from the first penalty corner of the game, Philip Brown hammered home to make it 2-1. But the Rathfarnham side levelled straight from the restart, Ben Walker diving to deflect the ball home from close range.

Walker got his second on the half-hour mark, this time from an excellent penalty corner variation. Two minutes into the second-half, the hosts had a let-off when a brilliant effort from Ross Canning crashed off the underside of the bar.

But with 11 minutes left, Rovers got their reward when, with Bann committed to attack, Jody Hosking fired home after playing a one-two with Canning.

Sam Grace made it 5-2 from a set-piece in the last minute to complete the scoring and a bad day at the office for the home team.

The win came seven days before Three Rock take on Scotland’s Grange in the Euro Hockey League KO16 round in Barcelona.

The Dubliners will be bidding to become Ireland’s first club to win a knockout tie in the competition which features 20 of the continent’s best clubs, hailing from 11 different countries.

And new boss Elun Hack says the Bann win has them in a really positive mindset for their date with Grange.

“The lads really put in some serious effort, delighted for them to have gotten the result they worked really hard for!” he added.

“It was a massive confidence boost before next weekend; the team is buzzing after that, and it will hopefully stand us in good stead for Barcelona!”

Should Rovers win on Saturday morning, they will be up against either Germany’s Rot-Weiss Koln – winners in 2017 – or Belgium’s Beerschot who feature Irish man Sam O’Connor along with World Cup winner Arthur de Sloover.

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