BHC Preview – Men’s 1st XI back in IHL action
This Saturday sees Bann return to EY Hockey League action after a 3 week break for Varsities, All Ireland Schoolboys, and Irish Senior Cup fixtures. After only 3 games Bann know a win this week is essential if they are to maintain pace at the top end of the table. This Saturday though a fellow title challenger comes to town in the shape of Dublin giants Pembroke Wanderers.
Both sides ironically have enjoyed 2 wins from their 3 starts and indeed have both fallen to defeat to Lisnagarvey so a win is vital to both teams to keep up the pressure on Cork Church of Ireland who lead the way with a 100% return from their opening 3 games. The league now enters an interesting phase with a series of fixtures coming up including a double header the following weekend for all the teams.
Bann, backed by Swallow Groupage, will be looking no further than this Saturday as Pembroke possess the talent and squad to inflict what would be Bann’s second league successive defeat, something that has been very rare over the past few seasons, having disappointingly lost last time out at home to fierce rivals Lisnagarvey. The locals did however enjoy a rather routine victory over the students of UCD in their opening round of their defence of the Irish Senior Cup last Saturday in Dublin.
Bann coach Mark Tumilty will be putting his squad through their paces this week as they attempt to step up a level or two to compete with the one of the most successful clubs in Dublin. He will hoping to see his much vaunted squad find their big game mentality that saw them sweep all before them last season. They have stuttered a bit this season so far but Saturday would be an ideal time to find their form and set a marker down that they are back in business.
Pembroke may well be thinking there is no better time to visit Havelock Park and with the likes of top striker and short corner expert Alan Southern, midfielders Kirk Shimmins and the recently transferred from Garvey Jason Lynch, along with a several other junior international players in their squad they will pose a real threat to Bann. The sides have met already this season in a preseason friendly at Garvey with Pembroke enjoying a narrow 2-1 victory.
Friendlies however count for nothing when it comes to the nitty gritty of 3 precious league points and both sides are fully aware of the importance of inflicting a defeat on a fellow title contender. Both squads will be aware of the lurking defending champions Monkstown who are a game behind their rivals having just fallen short in their EHL qualification bid last month in Germany.
Saturday’s game at 5pm is the centre piece along with the ladies 1st XI game at 2.30pm of a day where the local club thank all their sponsors and major partners, including the new ABC Council, for their support. In addition coinciding with the Irish men’s historic qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics the local club will also welcome Hockey Ireland’s and league sponsor’s EY’s senior officials to the club. The senior level of these delegations bear testament to the standing that Bann has within hockey in Ireland. Let’s hope the great and the good that are gathered witness a game fit for the occasion and a win for the locals!