Bann in IHL showdown on Saturday

Big time hockey returns to Havelock Park this Saturday and it doesn’t come much bigger than the arrival of current Irish Senior Cup holders Three Rock Rovers who will take on Bann in an eagerly awaited Irish Hockey League encounter. This will be the final group game in this season’s competition with the top 2 places still very much up for grabs with 3 teams in the mix to grab the all important semi-final spots. Rovers can enjoy the luxury of having already qualified but do not yet know whether that will be first or second. Bann and Lisnagarvey are vying for the other place. It’s simple – a win for Bann and they top the group with Rovers going through in second, a draw would see the reverse with Rovers topping the group.

Only a defeat for Bann brings Garvey into the equation on goal difference providing they overcome Cork Church of Ireland in Cork. A single goal defeat would still see Bann go through as that would generate a bonus point for the locals whereas any more than this and Garvey would have to make up a 6 goal deficit to qualify at Bann’s expense. Make no doubt about it Bann will be pushing for the win to top the group and set-up a possible semi-final with either Monkstown or Pembroke and Instonians who clash in the other group.

Bann go into the game on the back of a crucial league game at Cookstown on Monday night which will go a long way to determining the destination of the league title as victory for Bann would need them only to secure one more victory to bring the premier league title back to Havelock Park. Bann coach Mark Tumilty welcomes back his international contingent from their successful exploits at the World League 2 tournament in the USA as Bann begin their push for All Ireland silverware over the next few weeks. Phillip Brown remains an injury absentee and Bann will also wait on news on injuries to Fraser Mills, Neil Gilmore, and Johnny Mckee.

Bann will be hoping for a repeat of their earlier success this season over Rovers in a classic Irish Senior Cup tie that Bann won 3-1 at Havelock Park however the locals had to go into overdrive to secure a thrilling victory and more of the same will be expected again this season as Rovers appear to have found form at the right time of the season. Their victory in the previous round of fixtures at Garvey clearly proving this point. With the calibre of players like Mitch Darling, Peter Blakeney, and Johnny Bruton alongside some junior stars they are a side capable of pushing Bann all the way which hasn’t happened too often this season.

Saturday’s action gets underway at 2pm but will be preceded by a series of junior matches between the two clubs at 11.30am and these coupled with a prematch reception to officially open their new kitchen complex means Havelock Park will the place to be and eat on Saturday!