Bann set up return tie with Harlequins

BANBRIDGE Men’s Firsts travelled to Dublin in the second round of the Irish Senior Cup to face a tight Fingal side on a sand based pitch not suited to their expansive passing style of hockey.

They were nearly at full strength for the game with Owen Magee the only absentee.

The first half started at a frantic pace, but once it settled Banbridge controlled possession of the ball with good work from Colin Dowds and Drew Carlisle through the centre of the pitch.

Fingal who sat off, looked threatening on the break and a few aerial balls troubled the Banbridge defence.

Midway through the first half, Banbridge got the break through, after some great movement from Peter Brown and a quick shot which was well saved by the Fingal keeper the rebound broke kindly to Bruce McCandless who finished from close range to put Banbrdge one up.

Banbridge began to get their passing style going and Scott Caruth nearly doubled their advantage after some great link up play on the right but was denied by the post. Banbridge continued to press but were exposed at the back on a few occasions with Gareth Lennox being called on to keep the Fingalforwards out.

In the closing stages of the first half after a rash challenge by one of Banbridge’s defenders Fingal were awarded a short corner which they converted with conviction to put them back on level terms.

The seconds half saw Banbridge again control possession of the ball, with Phillip Brown and Bruce linking up well on the right hand side but the Fingal defence stood strong.

Fingal had chances of their with several short corners, but some outstanding keeping from Lennox kept the score level.

Banbridge then took the lead again, after some good work from Bruce who played Dane Ward in the circle, who finished competently into the bottom corner. Unfortunately, Colin Dowds was given a yellow after a hard challenge on a Fingal player and this allowed them to heap the pressure on the Banbridge back four.

Again Gareth Lennox kept them at bay with a great double save and the score finished 2-1 to the Bann men.

Banbridge will now travel to holders Cork Harlequins in search of revenge after being dumped out in last year’s competition,hoping to reach the semi finals of the Irish Senior Cup for the second time in three years.