IHL Countdown: Ross gives BHC the lowdown on the EHL experience

With the Banbridge v Monkstown game on Saturday (hit off 5pm), Bann marksman Ross McCandless gives us the lowdown on last months EHL and the teams hopes for the rest of the season.

Bann entertain Monkstown this week before an appetising encounter away to Cookstown in the Irish Senior Cup on 12th Noevember

1. Ross, tell us, what was your most memorable moment on the Dragons HC pitch?!

Scoring Banns first goal in the EHL and tackling Florian Fuchs (just the once mind you)!

2. Apart from yourself, can you single out any players who really stepped up to the mark in Belgium, or what is at real team effort?

I have to say that every member of the team stepped up to the mark and did what was asked of them. The occasion and increased tempo seemed to bring out peoples ‘A’ game which was a pleasant surprise. But I have to mention Phillip Brown, he brings an appetite and hunger to every game and gives his all and could easily play at that level week in week out.

Bruce McCandless and Stevie Dowds also performed and are key to any Bann performance. It was a privilege to play on a team where each player worked their socks off for the team.   

 3. The party atmosphere which developed after the Hamburg game on Sunday certainly added to the occasion. Was this the most entertaining moment off the pitch during the weekend?!

The whole weekend was an unreal experience, seeing hockey played at such a pace has to be one of the quickest and most enjoyable games to watch.

Come Sunday the team was proud of what we had achieved and were able to relax and enjoy the atmosphere on the final day. It gave us a chance to mingle with the loyal supporters and have a beer, the music and a few of the Bann ‘sing songs’  capped off an excellent weekend and thoroughly entertained the packed crowd waiting for the final game to start.  It was rumoured at a stage that a few of the players would have been happy to reschedule their flights to the Monday morning but Dane Wards dancing and Ross Beatties antics took care of that idea!!! lol

4. Clarkey was inspirational on the sidelines with his die hard approach to supporting. How much of an effect did the Bann fans have on the team during the games?

As backed up by the TV pundits and the press present it was clearly evident that the Bann support was the best and most entertaining throughout the weekend. From a playing point of view to walk out at the beginning of the games listening to the Bann support in a mist of red  (Clarkey and his red flare) made the hair stand on the back of your neck. Good support drives any team on and I can honestly say it drove the team on to get the results that we deserved.

5. The team performed exceptionally well over the two games and returned with a great reputation as a club. How much have Bann been put on the EHL/European map?

Going into the tournament certainly I was sceptical as we were beaten by our arch rival Garvey in the Kirk Cup and Cookstown in the IHL. But it was good to see Banns fighting spirit and we bounced back with two excellent performances over the weekend. So much so that we were approached by a visiting club HGC from Holland to play in their preseason friendly next year. Only four teams play in that tournament each year which includes Amsterdam who thumped Cookstown 10-1 and Rotterdam also a giant in the EHL weekend. This invitation clearly shows that Bann were highly thought of and produced two excellent performances.

Bann as a club should be proud of themselves.

6. Eugene played a key role in the Dragons win over the a highly fancied Rotterdam team. How far can you see the Dragons progress in the KO16 of the EHL?

Eugene would be a key player in any team and produced a skill for their winning goal only a few people in the world have the ability to do. Eugene is playing on the Dragons side with 14 other international players and that in itself shows how strong a team they actually are. They could get to the last 4 but I would love to see them go the whole way as Banbridge could stand proud and say they we helped produce such a talent in world hockey.

Eugene Magee should be an icon for younger players not only at Banbridge but throughout Ireland. Unlike some players Eugene’s modesty is his lethal weapon, his feet are firmly on the ground and speaking to him he has still a lot to learn and offer. He is your ideal role model.

7. Do you believe Bann can win another Irish title and reclaim a spot in next year’s EHL?

Absolutely, we got off to a poor start with a defeat to Cookstown. We didn’t perform that game but have bounced back with a bonus point win over Cork Harlequins. Last years’ AIL table half way through wasn’t in our favour but we produced the goods and got to Belgium. Bann don’t have the best or most skilful players but what we do have is a squad of players who are willing to play for the shirt and give it our all. “We won’t go down without a fight!”