Both Lisnagarvey and Three Rock Rovers overcame slow starts to win to record important wins and set themselves out as the main title contenders for now.
For Rovers, they were 2-0 down inside 11 minutes against Glenanne – who sat two points above them at start of play – through Shane O’Donoghue and Gavin Gibney.
Despite a James Walker goal, they still trailed with 15 minutes to go but an Evan Jennings equaliser was followed by back-to-back Ali Empey reverse-stick shots in the closing four minutes to land the points.
For Garvey, they went top for the first time this season with a sixth successive victory, beating bottom side UCD 5-1. While the final score was about par for what was expected, the Ulster side had trailed 1-0 to Tim Cope’s counter goal at half-time.
But three goals early in the second quarter changed things as James Lorimer levelled from a corner before Ollie Kidd and Daniel Nelson turned things around. Nelson and his younger brother Matthew then completed the victory.
Banbridge got their third win of the campaign as Chris Curry, Philip Brown and Jonny McKee notched goals in a 3-1 result against Annadale at Lagan College.
All were quality strikes with McKee’s diving deflection the clincher in the fourth quarter while Robbie Davidson’s classy earlier strike had Dale level at 1-1 for a short while.
Julian Dale’s 62nd minute goal earned Pembroke their first win of the season as they got over the line against Corinthian who lost 4-3 at home for the second successive fixture.
Earlier, Olympians Peter Caruth and Alan Sothern had traded doubles to have game level at 3-3 going into the final quarter.
Sam Hyland’s penalty stroke in the dying moments to make it three draws in their last four outings for YMCA as Monkstown lost a bit of ground on the leading group. Their tie ended 1-1 as fourth-placed Town were unable to build on Davy Carson’s early goal.
Pembroke are the standalone leaders of the women’s EY Hockey League following a comprehensive 4-1 win over Catholic Institute put them two points clear.
It was built on a dominant first three quarters and while Insta racked up a string of set pieces in the last 20 minutes, Pembroke had the cutting edge.
Tori Wensley jabbed home the first goal from Emily Beatty’s crash ball; Orla Macken smacked in a corner shot for 2-0 and Claire Foley made it three by half-time. Róisín Upton got one back from the penalty spot but Foley’s second late in the game confirmed the result.
With the bottom two sides in their next two games, Pembroke look well placed to lead the pack going into the new year.
Just down the road in Milltown, Old Alex dropped off top following a 1-1 draw against UCD. Abbie Russell had Alex in good shape but Niamh Carey swooped to level matters.
They now sit in a share of second alongside Pegasus as they proved too strong for Cork Harlequins with a 6-0 result with six different scorers on the board.
In the chasing pack, Railway Union jumped up a couple of spots into a share of fourth with Catholic Institute with a strong 4-0 win over Belfast Harlequins at Park Avenue, lifting them to 14 points alongside Catholic Institute.
Loreto, meanwhile, moved above UCD into sixth place with a 4-0 home win over Muckross with Siofra O’Brien netting twice.
Next weekend is the last full round of EYHL games before Christmas with the Junior World Cup seeing a number of shortened fixture lists on December 4th and 11th due to players being away in South Africa.