Academy sides book finals places

THE Belmont Hotel-backed Banbridge Academy first XI enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win at Garvey against Belfast Inst in a game many thought could see them unstuck.

The game, played last Tuesday saw the Academy travel without any support whilst Inst enjoyed a tremendous support from pupils and past pupils adding to the tense atmosphere.

But the pressure soon reversed as the game got off to a solid start and the Academy began to build slick platforms and assert their field position. With Robinson and Lorimer influencing things in midfield it took some super cover play by Aaron Reid to set Johnny McKee away - his lashed reverse ball into the circle forcing a short corner.

This set piece was expertly injected by the steady Warnock and a neat slip allowed Woods to crack home the advantage at 1-0 under an advancing keeper.

This seemed to take the wind from Inst’s sails and some excellent teamwork in the press saw McKee this time steal possession and his sublime one two with Reid and then Woods ended in a fine finish beating the keeper with the cross goal shot to give the scoreline and sense of justice at 2-0.

Then with the half time whistle beckoning some fine play from the back line saw Sturgeon slip it to Neville before his diagonal ball was well picked up by the fluid Warnock. His ability to find space allowed him to find the by line and crack in direct ball which resulted in another set play. Once again the Academy made the opponents pay the ultimate price and more intelligent play in the shoot zone saw that man again Rory Woods crack home his second and the Academy’s third to lead 3-0 at the interval.

So they will no face Sullivan Upper in this years Burney Cup Final at Garvey on March 20th at 2pm. The Master in Charge of Boys Hockey, Mr Mark Cordner, commented “The Hollywood side will have their tails high after beating Campbell College after extra time 5-2 then beating Friends School Lisburn in the semi 3-2 in what was a great spectacle for Ulster Schools Hockey.

“Our boys too have enjoyed a shot in the arms as the club first XI lifted the Premiership title at the weekend with several Academy players gaining important experience in achieving that. Our congratulations to past pupils Mark Tumilty, Scott McCandless and the team on a fantastic show of desire, skill and consistency to bring home a very important milestone for hockey in the district.”

Preparations have been excellent to date and a plan will be devised to ensure the Academy players are given the best opportunity to retain the Burney Cup.

The Senior Firsts are also to be commended for their show of support as they made their own spontaneous way to Garvey last Saturday to see the Dowdall Cup Quarter final as the Second XI destroyed Wallace 7-0 in a game full of flair and attack. This was again backed up on Friday at Ards when the Seconds beat Regent House 8-0 to gain the first spot in this year’s Dowdall Final again to be held at Garvey on Thursday 21st March. The goals came from Camin McCluskey (4) Robert Scott (3) and Michael Young who is enjoying a fine season for the Dowdall side. They await the winners of Friends SL and CCB but will relish the chance to win the Academy’s first Dowdall in three years - again there will be no stone unturned in terms of preparations.

The U15 and U14 sides will not be competing in this years finals having lost to Raphoe (2-0) and Sullivan Upper (3-1) in quarter final and Semi final stages of both the Ferris Cup and the Richardson Cup. They will rue chances from sets in particular but credit must be given in particular to Sullivan who fielded players hungry fresh and simply determined to win.

Then with a fantastic 4-0 win against Cookstown on Wednesday the NFU Mutual sponsored Academy U13 are to travel away from home to face a skill packed Methody side who slammed Friends 10-0 on Saturday to gain a home semi final. This game will probably happen on Thursday with a time available on the Academy Hockey Blog before Tuesday.

Meanwhile the Academy 12s made the long trip to Bangor well worth the while as the A side won 5-0 and the B men scorched an 11-0 scoreline. The stars who smashed the goals included Philip Campbell 3, Harry Lockhart 2, Lewis 2, John Scott 2, Tom Flannaghan 3, Ross Scott 2, Sam Megaw and Orin with 1. Overall a second successive set of fine results on the road at two traditionally strong venues for junior hockey. This Friday sees the Academy host an 8 a side set of fixtures at Havelock starting at 3.35pm and ending at 450pm - against newly restarted hockey playing school Clounagh, Portadown.

The Academy urge pupils to show their support by making the trip on buses being provided on March 20th to the hockey schools cup final - cost is £2 for the return journey and entry to the game is inclusive. All pupils interested are to sign up all this week outside the school dining hall and payment must be made immediately.

The Academy sides are proudly backed by The Belmont Hotel and NFU Mutual, Banbridge.