Persistence and pugnacity came in the right amalgam to take the Army XI to a trophy triumph against Bharat Petroleum (BPCL) by the odd goal in three in the final of the MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament on Sunday. The teams were level 1-1 at half-time. Army won the cash award of Rs.1.5 lakhs and BPCL, Rs 1 lakh as the runner-up.

A superb strike by the seasoned Ignace Tirkey midway in the second half mirrored the mood of the Army squad as also the prowess of the scorer to pitch in the match-winner. Picking up the ball on top of the circle, Ignace unleashed a terrific shot that brooked no response from the BPCL goal-keeper.

Worthy final

It was definitely a final worthy of the occasion in a splendid ambience at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium under floodlights. The hockey on view was placid in spells but the tight man-to-man to marking hindering fluency.

BPCL attack was kept in an attacking mode by passes from the wing by Sabu Varkey. The danger always lurked in the form of Amar Aiyamma and Jarnail Singh supported in the mid-field by Prabhdeep Singh.

But it was the Army that hoisted the lead midway. Once again it was the silken touch of Ignace Tirkey that paved the way. Fastening on to a forward by the irrepressible Ignace, the striker Mancid Bhengra provided the finishing touches with an eye catching backhander.

Thereafter the pressure escalated thanks to the quick moves by BPCL and Amar Aiyamma procured the equaliser. A long pass by Ravipal Singh resulted in a stunning deflection by Amar Aiyamma that disturbed the composure of the usually unflappable P.T. Rao.

Mr. M.A. Alagappan, Executive Chairman, Murugappa Group, presided and gave away the trophies. Amidst cheers, Mr. Alagappan announced that the Group would enhance the prize money to the winner from 1.5 lakhs to 2.5 from next year and that for the runner up from 1 lakh to 1.5 lakhs.

T.G. Thyagarajan, President, Madras Cricket Club, welcomed the gathering and Arun Murugappan, Organising Secretary, proposed a vote of thanks. A special memento was presented to Pannir Selvam, MCC’s goal-keeper for two decades.

The result: Final: Army 2 (Mansio Bhengra, Ignace Tirkey) bt BPCL 1 (Amar Aiyamma) HT 1-1.

Man of the final: Ignace Tirkey.

Player of the tournament: Amar Aiyamma (BPCL); Best forward; Sunil Ekka (Army); Mid-fielder: Prabhdeep Singy (BPCL); Best goal-keeper: P.T. Rao (Army).

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