Banbridge Hockey Club – Irish Senior Cup Preview

This Saturday sees an historic day for everyone at Havelock Park with the club hosting its very first ever Irish Senior Cup double header with both the ladies and mens senior teams hosting top Dublin sides in world hockey’s oldest club competition.  This first for the club has come about following the ladies superb progression to the Ulster Premier League and qualification for Irish hockey’s premier knock-out cup competition.

The men are no strangers to a cup competition that has a special place in the hearts of so many at the club with Bann having some of their greatest days in this pure form of All Ireland competition.  This Saturday sees the ladies take on Dublin kingpins and current All Ireland champions Hermes/Monkstown while the men take on old rivals Three Rock Rovers.

Hermes/Monkstown comprised of Hermes who have merged with Monkstown to form this new club will roll into town on Saturday with a star studded team littered with current internationals and sit proudly on top of the EY Hockey League with a maximum of eight wins out of 8. They will go into Saturdays game as clear favourites but Robin Madeley’s youthful side can take heart from their away point at Randalstown last Saturday.

Bann ladies may be the underdogs but all the pressure will be on the visitors whereas Bann can go out to enjoy the day, work hard, and see at first-hand what life is like at the top of the pile.  Coach Madeley will call upon his usual mix of youth sprinkled with experience and will be using the build-up this week to prepare his troops to withstand a barrage of attacks from the all international strike force that Hermes/Monkstown can call upon.

On the mens side another titanic struggle is expected when Bann take on Three Rock Rovers for the 2nd time this season and the 2nd time in the cup in three years.  The locals have enjoyed success on every occasion but have had to go into overdrive on each occasion to pull themselves from being behind to beating the victors in 3 classic games.  Another classic is on the cards with both teams possessing a wealth of talent.

Bann coach Mark Tumilty will be hoping his 5 international stars return from international duty during the week in Spain unscathed while the Dubliners call upon the services of top marksman Mitch Darling and defender Luke Madeley, son of Bann ladies coach Robin, and Irish keeper Jamie Carr.  Tumilty will be without the injured Ross Beattie but aside from this, it will be the same squad that has propelled Bann to the top of the EY Hockey League before last weekend’s games which Bann sat out because of a frozen Havelock Park pitch.

Three Rock will come to Bann as a real dangerous threat and their recent success over fellow top Dublin side Monkstown and draw at Garvey shows their pedigree and that they can live with and beat the best.  These results should at least ensure Bann approach this game with their big game hat on and show the respect that Rovers deserve.

What price a Bann double?  A long shot it may be but cups are renowned for shock results as Railway showed last year when they took the much vaunted Bann team apart at the same stage last year.  A gate will be on for both games and an entertaining afternoon can be guaranteed with all the talent on display.  The ladies are playing at 1pm followed by the men at 2.45pm.

Get down and support the teams #UTB