Banbridge will be “firm underdogs” going in this weekend’s IHL finals at Havelock, according to their coach.
Mark Tumilty saw his side lose out to Monkstown on Saturday in their final pool game. The 4-1 scoreline didn’t really matter to Bann, who had already sealed their route through to the finals by winning all four of their previous matches. Stephen Dowds netted a consolation goal for Tumilty’s men, who were also beaten 3-1 by the Dublin side in the Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals.
“I thought it was a great game of hockey for two teams that had already qualified,” said Tumilty.
“Monkstown are a good side and the best team won. They have a bit of a hoodoo over us at the minute.
“In the first half, we deserved to be level but in the second, they deserved the win.
“They’re a strong squad who are hard to beat but they weren’t three goals better than us and I think they’d say that themselves.
“I was pleased with our performance for the first 25 minutes but if we’re going to compete this weekend and if we’re going to beat garvey, we need to do that for 70 minutes.
“I don’t think there is that big a difference between us. We had the chances to go two or three up but then they got two goals when we were down to 10 men. They have five international forwards, who are excellent.”
Monkstown won the pool and will come up against Three Rock Rovers in the IHL semi-final at Havelock on Saturday. By the time Banbridge take on Garvey in the other semi on Saturday at 5pm, they’ll know who they can come up against in the final.
Tumilty, however, reckons his side are rank outsiders to lift the trophy they won back in 2011.
“We’ll be firm underdogs this weekend even though it’s at our own ground,” he said. “Nobody expects us to win it but that can work in our favour.
“I have been involved in these finals as a player and a coach, thinking we had a good chance and we’ve ended with nothing. Other times, I’ve thought we ha no chance, like three years ago. Nobody, including myself, thought we had a chance when we won it the last time.
“I didn’t think Three Rock Rovers had a chance of winning the the Cup either. In the top five teams in Ireland, anybody can beat anybody.
“Monkstown aere strong, Three Rock are going the right direction and Garvey have made a great comeback to reach the semi-finals.
“Garvey will be slight favourites for our game even though they haven’t got a great record recently at Havelock.”
If they are to come out victorious this weekend, Tumilty knows his top players must lead the side and be backed up by Bann’s emerging talent.
He said: “Players like Gareth Lennox, Eugene Magee and Bruce McCandless have key roles to play but they’re more than capable of it. Then it’s a case of whether the guys like Steven Dowds, Matthew Bell and Owen Magee can perform. They’re young but I believe they can.
“We have to do the other physical side of the game as well.
“We need to play the game and not the occasion. We will be ready for it anyway, I can promise everyone that much.”