Lisnagarvey survived a real final day scare to land the men’s EY Hockey League title following a heart-stopping final day of the season.
The Comber Road men needed just a draw to secure the title ahead of Three Rock Rovers and they looked to be cruising with 15 minutes to go as they led 4-3 against Banbridge while the Dubliners trailed against Monkstown.
But three wild minutes made for a tense close to an epic campaign as Rovers turned things around with Ben Johnson and Harry MacMahon both scoring to land a 3-2 success at Rathdown in the dying seconds.
Simultaneously, Banbridge levelled through Jonny McKee from the penalty spot to make it 4-4 while Garvey needing to hold on for the last eight minutes.
There were Bann chances but their Ulster rivals hung tough to allow James Corry to lift the regular season title for the third time in this full-season format.
It was an afternoon of rollercoasting emotions as Garvey led 1-0 and 2-1 with Ben Nelson and James Lorimer but opened the door when they fell 3-2 behind in the second half.
Vitally, Andy Williamson equalised and, with 20 minutes left, Ollie Kidd gave an extra buffer before the late nerves began to set in.
McKee’s stroke – his second of the day – had hearts fluttering but Errol Lutton’s side took the spoils, taking the league on goal difference and a guaranteed European spot.
For Three Rock, this competition remains the elusive one for their trophy cabinet as they finished second for a third successive time, goal difference the key factor for a second time.
They will hope to bounce back in three weeks time at the EY Champions Trophy at Havelock Park where they are going for a fourth successive title.
Both Garvey and Rovers are straight into the semi-finals while Banbridge will meet YMCA and Glenanne host Monkstown in the quarter-finals next weekend.