Three Rock make it a Champions Trophy treble

THREE Rock Rovers claimed a third successive EY Champions Trophy as they fended off regular season champions Lisna-garvey to win 2-0, continuing their incredible run of success in one-off games, writes Stephen Findlater.

Across the Mills Cup, Neville Cup, Irish Senior Cup and Champions Trophy, they now have 28 successive wins in knock-out matches, en route to amassing 12 titles indoors and outdoors since 2017 with the chance to add one more next week.

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John Mullins celebrates scoring for Three Rock in decider.

“It was a scrappy performance but we came out on top” said Three Rock coach Niall Denham after his side became the first club to win out of province since the compe-tition took on this format.

“We controlled it nicely; maybe we gave them a little bit too much space at times early on and did not stick exactly to the plan but the guys defended really hard. To get a clean sheet in the final, you give yourself a massive chance to win it.

“It’s the maturity in the side. A couple of years ago, we didn’t know our ceiling with these guys or how high we could go. It’s lovely to see what we can do, that we can control a game like that now which maybe we couldn’t a few years ago. That’s a great thing.”

Lisnagarvey, though, can take a decent amount from this tie to suggest they will cause plenty of problems in the Irish Senior Cup decider at Grange Road next Saturday.

They had plenty of the game at Havelock Park with Matthew Nelson electric in the first half. They might have broken the deadlock when he broke through down the left only to be met by a sliding Jamie Carr while his brother Daniel was instrumental in winning a couple of corners.

Luke Madeley, the Jimmy O’Connor Player of the Tournament, saved the second of those off the line. Troy Chambers fired in a shot that Carr saved into the stanchion outside the goal which some thought had nested into the top corner.

It proved a mirror opposite of their semi-final when every shot turned to gold but this time, Rovers, hung tough and gradually began to put the brakes on their tempo with Daragh Walsh’s influence rising.

And when their corner chances started to come, Madeley delivered with a powerful flick in the 29th minute for a 1-0 half-time lead. James Milliken denied both Walsh and Mitch Darling extending the lead but the killer blow came with 15 minutes remaining.

Ben Walker got underneath a long overhead which Garvey were pinged for encroaching on. It gave him the space to run at the D and while he might have slipped the ball earlier, the ball broke in the tackle to John Mullins who swung first time to batter home.

From there, Garvey largely came up against a brick wall with Ravin Nair and Harry MacMahon making several key tackles while Carr cleaned up anything that got through.

Kevin Mullins had a third goal disallowed for a stick-shield before flicking over Milliken. Old hands Darling and Jody Hosking played out time and the top prize was theirs once more, bringing with it the number one European berth with Lisnagarvey taking the second seed for 2019/20.

The sides will meet again in a week’s time in the Irish Senior Cup final at Grange Road on Saturday.

“It is a little surreal because the Champions Trophy is usually the end of the season, but we will celebrate this and then dust ourselves down and focus on next week” Denham added.

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