BHC all set for Gala Weekend

This Saturday sees an action packed weekend for everyone at Havelock Park as the locals host their Gala Weekend which was started last season as the format for their new pitch opening weekend.  All facets of the Club will have input both on and off the pitch to the weekend as all the local teams continue their build-up to the start of the season later this month. 

The Juniors kick off proceedings on Friday night from 5.30pm as they start their season with a series of coaching sessions delivered by their top coaches and who knows a special guest or two may drop in on their first night!  New members are very welcome from P1 – P7 with further details on times etc available on the Club’s social media sites. 

Following the Juniors on Friday night, will be a preseason friendly for the mens 2nd XI as they take on Armagh at 8.15pm.  Bann, sponsored by Edina, will be out to retain their Junior League 1 title which they won in style last season and also hope to get a run in the Irish Junior Cup having fallen to last years winners Three Rock Rovers in the semi-finals. 

First up on Saturday morning will be the current Belfast Telegraph Schoolgirl Senior Cup holders Banbridge Academy 1st XI girls when they take on BRA at 9.30am.  Both sides will be using this early friendly as preparation for their upcoming Superleague challenge in their respective groups.  BRA will be a tough test for the locals and a close game is expected. Bann will be hoping to follow on from their opening 1-0 win over Ballyclare last weekend.    

Next up at 10.30am will be the Academy boys 1st XI as they entertain Regent in a game both teams will be using as preparation for their upcoming All Ireland Schools qualifiers and McCullough Cup league games.  The locals under coach Simon Jess have been working hard in preseason and will be hoping to continue the good work. 

Following this Bann ladies enter the fray when their 2nd and 3rd XI sides take on neighbours Lisnagarvey at 12.30pm in a game both teams and their coaches will be using to finalise their selections as the start of the season beckons in a fortnights time.  Both Bann sides, sponsored by Edina, will be their usual heady mix of youth and experience. 

Last year’s pitch opening weekend saw a Bann Legends side take on and beat an Irish Select and they have sufficiently recovered to return to action again at 2.30pm to take on a Bann side drawn from all corners of the Club.  The opportunity to see the likes of McAnulty, Tumilty, Allister, McCandless and Carson still able to produce the goods will draw an inquisitive crowd to see if they can continue their winning streak. 

Spectators will have no time to catch their breath after this titanic struggle as next up are the mens 1st XI as they continue their preseason buid-up against Dubliners Clontarf at 4pm.  New coach Gordon Cracknell will be hoping to follow last Saturday’s opening 5-0 win over Cookstown with another positive result.  He will be looking to shuffle his pack as he runs his eye over his senior panel as they all bid for places in the opening EY Hockey League against Monkstown in a fortnights time. 

Bringing the action to a close at 5.30pm will be a special challenge game between Ulster Under 16 boys and their Under 18 counterparts.  Both sides will be using this fixture as crucial match practice for their respective inter-provincial title challenge the following week.  Adding some extra spice to the game will be a battle of the coaches with Bann’s Scott McCandless looking after the under 16s and Paddy Grimes in the under 18s camp.  

With all this hockey action providing entertainment at all levels, refreshments and Bann’s Havelock Hut serving tasty hot food, Havelock Park is certainly the place to be this weekend.