Bann and Garvey serve up a feast of goals in IHL thriller at Havelock Park

Sean Murray for Lisnagarvey with Drew Carlisle and Eugene Magee, Banbridge. Pic by Rowland White / PressEye
Sean Murray for Lisnagarvey with Drew Carlisle and Eugene Magee, Banbridge. Pic by Rowland White / PressEye

Old rivals Banbridge and Lisnagarvey, unquestionably the two best teams in Ulster Hockey played out a brilliant 4-4 draw at Havelock Park late last Saturday evening.

The match was a credit to both sides who throughout the 70 minutes produced top quality skill and commitment.

Bann's Bruce McCandless in action. Pic by Rowland White / PressEye

Bann's Bruce McCandless in action. Pic by Rowland White / PressEye

The supporters of the new IHL must be beaming after the third round of the Irish Hockey League produced some high octane hockey.

Banbridge and Lisnagarvey served up a pre-Christmas cracker in a game that produced eight goals, saw both teams take the lead and claw it back to share the spoils in a 4-4 draw.

These are the games that the pro IHL supporters want more of. Fast entertaining top quality hockey. For the hockey purist, yes bring it on.

But the bad news, supporters will have to wait until next February before they see the next round of games – that will be something to look forward to.

Stephen Dowds, Banbridge and Stevie Arbuthnot, Lisnagarvey. Pic by Rowland White / PressEye

Stephen Dowds, Banbridge and Stevie Arbuthnot, Lisnagarvey. Pic by Rowland White / PressEye

Bann were going into the game against rivals Garvey, looking for their 17th straight win of the season.

However, the visitors were out to spoil their run and in the first quarter Andy Williamson smashed the ball home to take the lead.

Good work from Daniel Buser and Richard Arneill led to Andy Williamson shooting past Lennox on his reverse side to give his team a deserved lead.

Banbridge took only three minutes to find an equaliser; it came after a fine James Lorimer tackle but the loose ball fell to Bruce McCandless who swivelled and shot crisply past Tormey from 5 metres.

But Garvey were in no mood to roll over, and Sean Murray restored their lead only to see Stephen Dowds level it again for Bann, with an absolutely fantastic penalty corner strike by Dowds, beating Tormey in the top corner of the Garvey net.

The Banbridge equaliser brought the first half to a close with the score at 2-2 and with the prospect of more goals in a fine open encounter.

The pendulum then swung in Bann’s favour after Matthew Bell roofed an unstoppable drag flick for the Havelock Park side to take the lead for the first time. And when Dowds grabbed his second it seemed that Bann had secured all four points.

Garvey had other ideas though, in last quarter spell a goal apiece from Stephen Arbuthnot and Timmy Cockram brought it to four-all.

The third quarter ended with the scoring tally at 4-4 with the big crowd expecting more but with both teams tiring and Banbridge, at one stage, down to nine players, trying to hold onto their point.

Fraser Mills shot high over the crossbar in the 69th minute for Banbridge and Andy Williamson had a goal disallowed in the final seconds to leave Havelock Park more than pleased with the treat they had seen from both teams with a 4-4 draw being a fair result at the end of 70 minutes of classical club hockey.