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Hockey Roundup & Weekend Preview

Sullivan Upper lifted the 57th McCullough Cup after defeating Friends' 4-3 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out after extra-time had failed to separate the teams who had fought out a 2-2 draw in Wednesday's final at Lisnagarvey.

The Holywood school were just seconds away from losing the game only to score a last-gasp equaliser which forced a scoreless additional 15 minutes and ultimately the penalty decider.

Sullivan went into the game as slight favourites but it turned out to be an extremely close-run contest before they added the prestigious trophy to the Burney Cup they claimed last season at Stormont. In fact, Friends' had the edge before falling behind and then were desperately close to  holding on for their first triumph in the competition since 1980.

After surviving some early pressure, Sullivan broke the deadlock in the 27th minute when Paddy Crookshanks converted a penalty-corner. But the Lisburn lads fought back to draw level in the second-half when Andy Edgar sent a drag-flick into the net following another set-piece.

Jack McGall then made it 2-1 to Friends' as an upset looked a possibility after Sullivan had easily won an earlier clash between the sides in the current season. But with just seconds left, Harry Morris scrambled the ball home for the equaliser to force extra-time after a thrice-taken penalty corner.

Not surprisingly, tired legs took their toll and there was no further scoring, so the game went into a nerve-jangling shoot-out. Sullivan captain Fergus Gibson stepped up to keep a cool head and convert the decisive penalty and then was presented with the trophy by Nigel McCullough.

Crookshanks received the man-of-the-match award from Richard Waring after scoring the opening goal and making a fine overall contribution to a thrilling contest. However, Friends' deserve immense credit for their part in an exciting final in which they went so close to bridging that 37-year gap.



They will take a lot of confidence from their performance and, when the initial heartache dissipates, they will look forward to the forthcoming Burney Cup campaign in the New Year with confidence.

Sullivan coach Andy Williamson was a happy, if somewhat relieved man afterwards and he praised both teams for producing such a spectacle.
"We had expected a tight well contested game but maybe not as tight as scoring in the last play of the game after three re-awarded corners and going right down to the last penalty stroke!" he said.

"Commiserations to Friends who played very well and came back from one down to hold the lead at 2-1 for the last 20 minutes of the game. But our guys showed great character, not giving up, to keep on looking for the equaliser and eventually netting it in the last play of the game with a corner variation that we had worked on earlier in the week."

"Hats off to all of the boys who stepped up to take a stroke in the final of a cup and a big mention to our keeper Tom McCord who made two very good saves down low to his right hand side which set up Fergus to net the winner with the last stroke. I thought it was a good competitive game of hockey and luckily for us we came out on the right side of the result."

On Saturday, Andy will be in direct opposition to some of his Sullivan players when Lisnagarvey host Annadale in the EYHL. However, if the weather forecast is accurate, there may not be much hockey played.

There's one rearranged ISC fixture scheduled as Mossley are due to face Harlequins at the Glade while Instonians can close the gap on Bangor at the top of the Premier if they beat Cliftonville.

In the women's programme, Ards will be bidding to avenge their ISC defeat to UCD when the sides meet again in Dublin. The other two Ulster EYHL teams clash head-on as Pegasus, who are two points off the pace, take on Belfast Harlequins at Upper Malone.

In the Ulster Premier League, leaders Dungannon travel to Havelock Park to take on a Banbridge side buoyed by last week's win over Ulster Elks, who host North Down on Friday night. Ballymoney, who trail the Tyrone team only on goal difference, have a tough one at home to champions Lurgan while Queen's are away to Randalstown, weather permitting, of course.



FIXTURES
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Saturday
EYHL

Banbridge v Cookstown 5.00pm @ Havelock Park
Lisnagarvey v Annadale 4.00pm @ Comber Road

Irish Senior Cup R2
Mossley v Belfast HQ 2.30pm @ The Glade

Irish Hockey Trophy R1
NICS v Kilkenny 2.30pm @ Stormont
North Down v Raphoe 2.40pm @ Comber LC
Portadown v Bangor 1.00pm @ Edenvilla
Weston v Newry

Premier
Antrim v Queen’s 1.00pm @ Antrim Forum
Instonians v Cliftonville 2.30pm @ Shaw’s Bridge 


WOMEN
FRIDAY 

Premier 

Ulster Elks v North Down 8.00pm @ UUJ

SATURDAY
EYHL

Pegasus v Belfast HQ 4.00pm @ The Dub
UCD v Ards 2.50pm @ Belfield

Irish Hockey Trophy R2

Ballymena v Portadown 2.30pm @ Ballymena Academy
Belvedere v Omagh 4.00pm @ Ballincollig Comm. School
Rainey v Catholic Inst 2.30pm @ Meadowbank
Greenfields v Mossley 

Premier
Ballymoney v Lurgan 2.30pm @ Joey Dunlop LC
Banbridge v Dungannon 1.00pm @ Havelock Park
Randalstown v Queen’s 2.30pm @ Antrim Forum

Senior One

Ballyclare v Armagh 2.30pm @ Ballyclare HS
Raphoe v Knock 1.00pm @ Royal & Prior
Victorians v Lisnagarvey 4.00pm @ The Dub



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Copyright © 2012 Ulster Hockey.  Photos courtesy of Rowland WhiteDeveloped by ecom