Teams ready to go!!

This weekend sees the start of the new season for all Banbridge teams. As the Firsts have been completing there Kirk Cup group stages the rest of the club have been eagerly awaiting the new season which was given a bizarrely late start of October.  

Last Saturday the Firsts ensured a busy upcoming weekend as they booked a Kirk Cup semi final date with Lisnagarvey this Sunday. The match between these great rivals takes place at Havelock Park wit a 1:30pm start. However before the locals can think of Garvey, they have to negotiate their opening Ulster League fixture against Premier League new boys Belfast Harlequins on Saturday.  Harlequins have had a tough baptism to Ulster’s Hockey elite with heavy defeats to Cookstown, Lisnagarvey and Instonians but a fine 2:0 win over Mossley will ensure some confidence going into the game against the reigning Irish Champions. Although largely unknown the Belfast side are led by Irish men’s high performance fitness coach Jonny Caren and will possess a few familiar faces to the Bann faithful, over the summer speedy forward Neil Anderson and gifted midfielder James Hutchinson made the switch from Havelock to Deramore. Although Bann will enter the game as heavy favorites after their steady improvement in the Kirker campaign they will be very ware of the threat posed by the Deramore outfit. The game was originally schedule for Deramore but due to pitch availability it has been switched to Havelock.  

Saturday 1st October

Ulster Premier League: Banbridge v Belfast Harlequins 2:30pm

The Kirk Cup semi draw means Sunday’s clash will be the first meeting this season of Ulster hockey’s version of the “old firm” . The game will have added spice coming only months after Bann left Hillsborough with the  Irish Hockey league crown on the final day of last season.  Lisnagarvey will travel with a few changes from last year as Jason Lynch has joined the professional ranks in Belguim, Paddy Martin and Mark Daniel have both moved to England and Alex McRoberts has went traveling. However experienced Bangor stopper John Tormey  has joined and Peter McDonnell has rejoined after playing in Australia last term.

Garvey started the season scoring quite a few goals with wins over Instonians, Harlequins and Mossley before last weekends 3:0 defeat to in-form Cookstown put a damper on moral.  Bann Coach Mark Tumilty sees the weekend as excellent opportunity to start their season very positively but it also provides great fitness preparation for the upcoming EHL and IHL fixtures in October.

Sunday 2nd October

Kirk Cup Semi Final: Banbridge v Lisnagarvey 1:30pm

Banbridge seconds have endured a summer of upheaval as a great number of talented players from last years squad has moved across the Irish sea to continue their studies. However the impressive Academy talent conveyer belt will give Captain Doug Anderson great options to build a squad to challenge for honours this season.

There is no better start to the season than a visit from last seasons “benchmark team”  Lisnagarvey seconds. Bann went head to head last season in both Junior One and the Irish Junior Cup but fell short in the end.  However with mainstays Arran Appleton, Doug Anderson, Junior Burns, Mark McCague  and Macko still available and rising stars Thomas Sturgeon, Ben Cosgrove, David McCracken and Rory Woods added then the squad will be competitive as always on all fronts.

*Attention: later in the week “Meet the captains Q & A” a chance to hear Doug’s thoughts on the upcoming season.

Saturday 1st October

Junior League 1: Banbridge 2nds v Lisnagarvey 2nds 4:00pm Havelock Park

With all the upheaval above Paul Downey’s third eleven are effectively a new team, The line up is full of  young talented players with mainstay Roger Martin still pulling the strings at the back, however Talented goalkeeper Andrew Mooney will be an important figure this year if they hope to win their biggest challenge of staying in Junior One. They start with one of their toughest away trips as they travel to lough Moss to play Annadale seconds (2:30pm)

*Attention: later in the week “Meet the captains Q & A” a chance to hear Paul’s thoughts on the upcoming season.

Saturday 1st October

Junior League 1: Annadale 2nds v Banbridge 3rds 2:30pm Lough Moss

Mathew Clarke takes the reigns of the fourth eleven again this year after relegation last season he will hope that his new batch of players respond well to the lower level of competition. Goalscoring machine Gareth Matthews will be important for the team plus new talented players such as young Aaron Reid will start their senior playing career

*Attention: later in the week “Meet the captains Q & A” a chance to hear  Clarkey thoughts on the upcoming season.

Saturday 1st October

Junior League 3: Banbridge 4ths v Raphoe 3rds 1:00pm Havelock Park  

On a sad note unfortunately the club this year has had to withdraw its Fifths and Sixths from competition. The Club was left with very little option due to the amount of players studying overseas or joining other clubs. It is hoped this is a temporary situation and the club will strive to have these teams back playing within a couple of seasons.

If you would like to help out through the season with umpiring or other club duties please inform your captain, your help would be very much appreciated.  

Good luck to all teams and let’s have another great season