All Roads Lead to Dublin This Weekend for IHL Semi-Final
All Roads Lead to Dublin This Weekend!
That is the cry from everyone at Havelock Park this week as Bann make their second trip to Dublin in a fortnight to take part in the finals of Irish hockey’s blue riband event, the Irish Hockey League finals. Bann will be aiming to enter the history books and be the first side ever to complete the “Grand Slam” of all domestic and national cups – 5 in total, an unthinkable achievement!
Already sitting safely in the Havelock Park trophy cabinet are Ulster Hockey’s GOC Estates Premier League title, the GOC Estates Kirk Cup, and the Anderson Cup and these along with that historic Irish Senior Cup triumph secured over the last weekend in March have set Bann up for a shot at the ultimate prize. However despite this dominance Mark Tumilty’s talented squad are in no doubt of the challenge that lies ahead.
Standing in their way will be Pembroke Wanderers who will be still smarting from their Irish Cup semi-final defeat to Bann and Dave Passmore’s side will be aiming for revenge to that 4-0 defeat. Nick Burns is expected to be back in their side after having missed the cup defeat and his inclusion will give them some needed punch in attack.
If successful against Pembroke the locals would then take on the might of either host club Three Rock Rovers or Dublin kingpins and Bann’s nemesis over the past three seasons Monkstown. Bann have already enjoyed success twice this season over Rovers, most recently in a thrilling IHL game at Havelock Park with Bann enjoying a hard fought victory to overtake the Dubliners at the top of the league table.
Monkstown and Bann have not crossed swords with each other since this time last year when the Leinster league champions secured their second successive IHL title at what most people regarded as the best ever IHL finals tournament at Havelock Park. Whilst most people will regard Bann as favourites, Bann themselves will see Monkstown as the team to beat due to their record in this competition and the quality within their squad which like Bann’s is littered with internationals.
Rovers and Pembroke will no doubt be out to spoil the script and with the quality within their squads they are more of capable of ensuring that the neutrals dream final of Bann versus Monkstown does not take place. Rovers especially on their new pitch at home will be a tough hurdle for Monkstown to get past and they have already enjoyed semi-final success over the South Dublin outfit en route to winning last season’s Irish Senior Cup.
Bann coach Mark Tumilty will assess minor hamstring injuries this week to Dane Ward and Jamie Wright picked up in their final league games but both are hopeful of being given the all clear. Aside from these two Bann will only travel without long term injury absentee Phillip Brown. This will still see a formidable squad that will travel up and down both days, if required, to represent Bann. Entry per day is €12 or €20 for a weekend pass, reduced rates are available for students, and under 18s.
A large contingent of supporters are expected to make the well trodden trip to Rovers Grange Road venue and these combined with Bann taking a junior squad by bus to Monkstown earlier on Saturday and then on to the big game should ensure that Bann are well supported. Bann take on Pembroke in the 1st men’s semi on Saturday at 3pm followed by Monkstown vrs Rovers at 5pm with the final, and a potential shot at hockey immortality, on Sunday at 4pm. Best wishes to all at Havelock – you can do it!