Sports

Firsts win hockey league

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Firsts win hockey league thumbnailThe team were crowned EY Hockey League winners on Saturday.

AFTER the excellent performance of Banbridge Men's firsts at the Champions League of hockey, the European Hockey League KO16 in Eindhoven last weekend, Banbridge Men's Firsts sponsored by Swallow Groupage took on Railway Union from Dublin in the 3pm slot at Havelock.

Bann First...6
Railway Union...1

This was the final league game and Bann knew they could win the league and cup double if they scored enough goals.

Bann were without Gareth Lennox so Luke Rolston was in nets, and Hugh MacShane was absent due to exams, but Head coach Mark Tumilty had Neil Gilmore, Ben McMillen and Andrew Bennington available for the game.

Banbridge produced the goals they needed to stay clear of Three Rock Rovers in dramatic fashion, managing to do enough to win the EY Hockey League title on goal difference on a day of frantic checking of phones between Havelock Park and Grange Road.

At three quarter-time, Rovers looked like they could potentially close the gap fully before a strong late showing for Bann meant they kept the lead they had held for so long Bann started strongly with a Fraser Mills effort on target early on for 1-0, this was followed by a Ross Beattie reverse which hit the side board. Railway were sitting deep trying to hit the home side on the counter attack.


A great attack by Bruce Mc- Candless set up the chance but Johnny McKee flicked just over. Philip Brown was once again a force to be reckoned with down the right side, he set up many chances along the by line and pulling the ball back to create chances. Then Matthew Allister saw his shot taken off the line, towards the end of the quarter Bann saw a Mathew Bell short corner flick hit the post.

Bann added another couple in the second quarter when a Peter Brown pass found Fraser Mills who scored his second. Railway's keeper Stephen O'Keeffe was very busy but proving difficult to beat.


Bann did win a penalty stroke; Matthew Bell sending O'Keefe the wrong way for 3-0 at the break while Rovers were 6-0 up on Instonians in Dublin, halving the goal difference deficit.

 

Score Half Time: 3 vs 0


The third quarter was a more even affair, but Bann continued to push for more goals. Brown was outstanding in midfield, winning possession and turning defence into attack.

He was well supported by McCandless, Beattie and Sam Farson who put in great shifts but they did see Mark English pull a goal back from a corner for Railway to trim the gap.


Bann soon won another short corner, a great switch at the top saw Eugene Magee send a rocket goal bound only for the defender to stop it illegally on the line. Bell coolly sent the keeper the wrong way again to make it 4-1 to Bann. Ross Beattie then finished well to make it 5-1 to restrengthen their position.

The Bann defence of Matthew Bell, Kyle Marshall, Drew Carlisle and Philip Brown were seeing a lot of possession and able to cope with any Railway attacks comfortably.

In the final quarter, Bann pushed for another goal with news from Grange Road that Three rock had scored again to make it 8-0.

Owen Magee was causing havoc in the visitors 22 with some great attacking runs.


Railway were defending well as a team as they knew their EYHL league survival was on the line too. A great bit of play between Jamie Wright, Peter Brown and Fraser Mills on the left saw a cross put in and there was our Olympian Eugene Magee at the back post to score the 6th goal, making it 6-1 to Bann.


With the news that William Robinson had scored for Instonians in Dublin, Bann could finally breathe easier, getting them over the line for a memorable league victory.

Final Score : 6 vs 1 The Bann Team were presented the trophies and their medals by sponsor EY, and Eugene Magee thanked the club and the supporters for their great support both in Eindhoven and on S a t u rd ay.

The management team of Mark Tumilty, John Clarke, Simon Jess, Paddy Grimes and Colin Walker deserve great credit for what they have achieved this season.

 

Winning the All Ireland league means Bann have qualified for the Euro Hockey League next season - what an achievement for our wee town and the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

This weekend coming, sees the finale of a long and successful season for Bann, the Men's firsts play Monkstown in the EYHL Champions trophy weekend on Saturday at Grange Road in Dublin. Please come down and support team.

The winner plays the final against either Lisnagarvey or Three Rock at the same venue on Sunday.

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