Mixed results for Bann teams as Firsts make final eight of Irish Senior Cup

Cookstown 1-2 Banbridge 

Bann travelled to Cookstown on Saturday in the Irish Senior Cup looking to avenge the 4:2 defeat suffered at the same venue in the Irish Hockey League a few weeks earlier.

In bright sunny conditions it was Cookstown who opened the stronger and possibly should have taken an early lead when a cross from Ian Sloan narrowly evaded an on rushing forward. Slowly Bann gained a foothold in the match with Phillip Brown starting to play in a more advanced position.

Just as the first 25 minutes had been largely uneventful the final 10 minutes of the half suddenly sprung into life, on 27 minutes Cookstown took the lead when a long Keith Black pass found Timmy Smyth unmarked in the Bann circle and he confidently placed the ball past the onrushing Lennox.

Bann’s response was immediate, Ross McCandless powering home and unstoppable drag flick from his sides first penalty corner. Within 2 minutes Bann went ahead when following slick passing across the pitch Phillip Brown’s diagonal pass was deflected home by the prone Hugh McShane.

Following a stern halftime team talk from coach Mark Tumilty Bann emerged much more focused in the second half and immediately started putting the Cookstown midfield and defence under greater pressure. Cookstown did manage to forces a couple of penalty corners which where capably dealt with by the Bann defence. As the half progressed it was Banbridge who created the clearer cut chances and only for lack of composure in the circle would have extended their lead.

As the clock ran down Bann were happy to play out the last few minutes in the Cookstown half with Bruce McCandless holding on to the ball in the corner of the pitch. When the final whistle sounded the Bann players and supporters celebrated an important if uninspiring victory over last season’s Irish Cup winners.

The draw for the quarter finals took place after the game with the locals having to travel to Cork Harlequins at a date to be confirmed. 

Squad: Gareth Lennox, Scott McCandless, Ross McCandless, Stephen Forbes, Phillip Brown, Ross Beattie, Drew Carlisle, Bruce McCandless, Steven Dowds, Scott Caruth, Hugh McShane, Matthew Bell, Ben Cosgrove, Owen Magee, Dane Ward

Seconds still undefeated.

Garvey 3rds 0 Banbridge 2nds 1.

Bann Seconds continued their good start to the season with a 1-0 victory away to Garvey 3rds. The game started quickly and a defensive mix up and goal line clearance by Dougy Anderson prevented Bann goin behind in the opening minutes. After this Bann controlled the game and created a number of chances,with some good forward running by Rory Woods. Banns goal came through a trademark drag flick by captain Dougy ‘takaema’ Anderson. The remainder of the game was reasonably tight but some solid tackling from Banns back four and midfield put a stop to anything Garvey had to offer. This leaves Bann Seconds with five wins and a draw from their opening games, a great start, which will hopefully be continued when they entertain Bann 3rds this week at Havelock.

Captain Marvel Grabs Brace 

After last weekend’s big win the young Bann side were looking to make it two wins on the bounce with a very tough away trip just down the road to Armagh! Setting up with a 4-3-3 formation bann were on the front foot from the word go and failed to capitalise on a few early chances.

The standard of passing was of the highest quality from both teams and possession was hard fought for in scoreless first half. Bann regrouped at the half, at the forefront of the discussion was the need for the forwards to be more clinical infront of goal and it didn’t take long into the second half for captain Matthew Clarke to lead by example and slot home a fantastic diving deflection leaving the keeper with his concrete boots on. It didn’t take long for ‘Captain Marvel’ to add another after some quick thinking and sharp skill Clarke turned the two central defenders inside out, saw his first effort well saved but followed up to fire home the rebound from short range.

Bann remained composed and kept the ball well until a fantastic reverse effort saw the talented young keeper Peter Bingham rooted to spot, helpless as he watched the ball fly past his left shoulder and into the top corner. Armagh had brought it back to 2-1 with 10minutes to go and had the belief to go on and win the game. Bann absorbed the pressure well, some outstanding defending coupled with a great save or two from Bingham kept bann in the game and the storm passed. Clarke rallied the team and called for a third goal to settle the game, the team responded well with Michael Young being unlucky from close range and Bann being denied a nailed on pelenty stroke after a seige of continuous short corners game to nothing. With only a couple of minutes on the clock matthews, malcolmson and Clarke broke well, leaving armagh very short at the back some quick pass and move left matthews through on goal, denied by a deliberate foul on the goal line the umpire had no choice but to award a stroke this time which Matthews duely slotted into the bottom corner!

The game was settled at 3-1, 3 great points secured for Bann and team captain Matthew Clarke had this to say after the game, ‘It was a fantastic team performance, every single player gave 100%, yea don’t get me wrong, it was great to grab a couple of goals but I definitely getting the 3 points away from home was a better achievment, we have came under some harsh critisism over the past few weeks, today we welcomed back Gareth Matthews and I think if we can keep the team fit that we’ll be 100% safe in this league’

Next week the Bannsiders face a stiff challenge from down the A1 when they take on Newry Olympic at Havelock Park. Hit Off is at 2.30 and all support is more than welcome to come down, enjoy the game and take advantage of the great social facilities available at Banbridge Hockey Club.