Town’s stroke of fortune

by Stephen Findlater

MONKSTOWN summoned a dramatic late salvo to snatch the men’s hockey’s Irish Senior Cup title from under Lisnagarvey’s nose as Jonny Bruton’s goal 90 seconds from time earned them a penalty shoot-out from a dramatic and contentious final.
There, they held their nerve with a perfect six strokes from six, meaning Stevie Arbuthnot’s horrific miscue handed Town the initiative which Gareth Watkins took with glee, making it 6-5 in sudden death at Belfield.
It was a tense battle throughout between the two sides that have been clearly the best in the country to date this season with one a piece against each other in their prior league games with over 10 players hopeful of being part of the Irish Olympic team on display.
Town won the first 5-2 before falling 1-0 in January to Garvey as part of the Ulster side’s run of 11 league wins in succession.
Speaking about the win, Monkstown coach Jonny Caren said: “Every game we have had against these guys, even the 5-2 win up there, have been extremely close.
“In our last meeting, we felt there was a little bit of injustice. We dug in, created chances and today, took the one that mattered.”
Garvey skipper Jonny Bell was magnanimous in defeat afterwards but his internal thoughts about Town’s first equaliser may well be the longest lingering debate after a fine game, played at top pace between the island’s two strongest clubs to date this term.
Daniel Buser had given Garvey the perfect start when he fired home at the second attempt two minutes in for a 1-0 lead. Town, though, got back on terms right on the stroke of half-time via a lovely move created by Bruton and Andrew Ward and finished by Davy Carson.
The only problem was the half-time hooter seemed to go before the crucial final touch. Umpire Kris Cholewa raised his arms to point for a goal but the effort was not confirmed on the scoreboard nor announced by the PA until two minutes into the interval.
Debate raged whether the ball crossed the line before or after the hooter but the umpire’s discussion during the break confirmed it would stand.
Lisnagarvey retook the lead with 15 minutes to go when Mikey Watt tipped the ball over the line from Sean Murray’s cross.
Town, however, have a habit of accumulating trophies in recent times and they sensed vulnerability in a stirring late volley. As Garvey sat deeper, the corners started to pile up and Lee Cole’s shot eventually fell to Bruton to gobble up the chance.
Ninety seconds ticked down and Town had their shoot-out chance, one that they executed superbly.

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