BHC Preview – Mens 1st XI

This coming weekend sees Bann test the physical strength of their squad with the first double header of the new EY Hockey League.  First up on Saturday for Swallow Groupage backed Bann is a trip to Dublin to take on Three Rock Rovers at Grange Road and then it’s back to base on Sunday for the visit of Cork Church of Ireland to Havelock Park.

Last weekend’s series of results have certainly propelled Bann right back into the title race following their slip-up against Lisnagarvey in round 3.  Cork’s home defeat to Garvey, leaders Monkstown’s goalless draw at Three Rock, coupled with Bann’s late rally to defeat Pembroke have tightened the top of the table with Garvey, Cork, and Bann just trailing Monkstown by the odd point.

First up next week for the locals will be a trip to a venue that is home from home for them in Dublin with Grange Road holding no issues for a Bann side that has been a regular visitor to the South Dublin venue.  Rovers have had a mixed bag of results so far as they still come to terms with the loss of their talisman over the years Mitch Darling who is now plying his trade on the continent.

Their inconsistencies however show that Bann will have to mind their work as the likes of Peter Blakeney and a talented crop of young 20 somethings are a hard working unit capable of mixing it with the best as last week’s draw against the much vaunted Monkstown side showed.  The sides have enjoyed some titanic battles recently none better than last season’s meeting in the Irish Senior Cup when Bann stormed home in superb fashion to secure a great home victory.

Both sets of supporters will be hoping for more of the same when the sides take to the famous Grange Road turf next Saturday at 3pm.  Bann coach Mark Tumilty will make a call during the week on Josh Moffett who missed last week’s win over Pembroke with a hamstring injury sustained during training on Thursday night.  Aside from Moffett it is expected to be the usual squad for Bann that will travel down the A1.

Sunday sees the early pace setters until last week Cork Church of Ireland arrive at Havelock Park for a 2pm start.  Cork have been rejuvenated again this season having enjoyed 3 consecutive wins before defeat last Saturday at home to Garvey.  They proved a tough nut for Bann to crack in last year’s Irish Senior Cup final and they again have been drawing upon the talents of ace short corner expert John Jermyn to notch up the goals.  He already has a hat-trick to his name this season.

Coached by the experienced Davy Hobbs they will come to Havelock Park with a clear game plan and a belief that they have the depth in their squad to push Bann all the way.  How Bann recover from the exertions of their trip the previous day will go a long way to determining the result of this game.  Bann are renowned for the strength and depth of their squad and this will be put to the sternest of tests this weekend.

Bann however are more than capable of notching up a victorious double to keep themselves right in the mix and anything less would probably see them lose ground as other sides secure the six points on offer over the weekend.