Bann out to take another step to league title

Banbridge are hoping they can go one step closer to regaining the Ulster Premier League title with a victory over Cookstown at Havelock on Saturday. The two sides met last month when Bann won 3-0 to dump their Ulster rivals out of the Irish Senior Cup. However, they'll have to win this one and next week's crucial Irish Senior Cup tie without skipper Eugene Magee. Pic: Presseye.
Banbridge are hoping they can go one step closer to regaining the Ulster Premier League title with a victory over Cookstown at Havelock on Saturday. The two sides met last month when Bann won 3-0 to dump their Ulster rivals out of the Irish Senior Cup. However, they'll have to win this one and next week's crucial Irish Senior Cup tie without skipper Eugene Magee. Pic: Presseye.

Banbridge Hockey Club Head Coach Mark Tumilty knows his side can take another big step towards the Ulster Premier League title this weekend.

Bann host Cookstown on Saturday in one of the biggest games of the league season (pass-back 4pm) and, with the club already sitting pretty at the top of the table, seven points ahead of title rivals Garvey (who have a game in hand), a win at Havelock against what is another top team would leave Tumilty’s side well placed.

“This is a big game for us,” he said. “They (Cookstown) have taken two points off Garvey already this season and, as we’ve already won at Comber Road, a win against Cookstown would put us in a very good position.

“They’re dangerous though. They have Greg Allen and Stuart Smyth up front who are very, very hard to play against.

“They offer a different challenge because they play on the counter attack so it’s all about being patient for us.

“We dominated the game to win 3-0 in the Irish Cup and I’d take that again on Saturday.”

Bann are also keen to keep their momentum going ahead of the following weekend’s vital Irish Senior Cup quarter-final against Dublin giants Three Rock Rovers. However, Bann will go into these games still without skipper Eugene Magee.

“The bad news is Eugene isn’t going to be back for the Three Rock game,” confirmed Tumilty. “There’s a chance we’ll have him back to play some part in the Garvey game in the IHL at the end of the month.

“This is a big few weeks for us coming up. All of the games we have are important and will be tough games.”

Tumilty knows that, after what has been a series of routine victories so far this season, his side need to shift into top gear for the Cup game against TRR.

“That is a concern because we don’t know exactly where the group are but you can see a bit in training and in matches and I feel we are in a good position at the minute,” he said.

“I watched Three Rock Rovers playing Monkstown recently. They were beaten 6-2 but both teams were very impressive.

“It will be a very tough game against them but these are the teams you have to beat if you want to win the Irish Senior Cup. A home draw is all you can really ask for.

“Cookstown will be tough opponents this weekend though. They’ll be a step up for us and will prepare us for the Three Rock game.”

Bann will welcome back Scott Forbes for this weekend’s fixture after he sat out the 7-0 victory over UCD in the IHL last Friday.