Banbridge win 4-3 on penalties
BANBRIDGE are still on course to haul in four trophies this season, after they reached next month’s Kirk Cup Final, where they will meet holders Cookstown who are on a hat-trick of Kirk wins.
But Bann had to dig deep, as they had to come from behind to win their semi final clash against Annadale on penalty strokes.
Dale took the lead six minutes from the turn, when Neil Hamilton smashed them into the lead. And five minutes into the second half, Andy Williamson doubled Annadale’s lead, finishing off a scintillating run from Chris Campbell.
Within five minutes of the restart, Stephen Dowds reduced the deficit, diving to meet the ball the ball at the far post, to pull one back for Bann. Five minutes later it was all square, this time Ross McCandless scoring his 14th goal of the season, with a superbly executed penalty corner.
With the game still locked out at full time, it was down to golden goal and with just three minutes played, Ian Hamilton had a golden opportunity to put the Belfast side in the final but Gareth Lennox saved brilliantly from the spot.
And, with it still honours even, it was down to the dreaded penalty strokes. which saw Bann claim their April final slot with four well taken strokes.
In the other semi final, which was also played at Bann’s Havelock Park base, Cookstown’s Sloan brothers, Ian and Stephen single handily destroyed Lisnagarvey’s possible dream season, when they dumped the joint favourites out the Kirk Cup.
In a cagey opening first half with chances in short supply, Stephen Sloan broke the deadlock one minute before the interval, deflecting the ball home at a crucial time in the game.
For the opening 20 minutes of the second half, Garvey were entrenched inside Cookstown’s 25 as they attacked in waves. But they were unable to find a way past Ian Hughes, who was in sparkling form between the sticks.
With Garvey on the ascendency, Cookstown struck a killer blow against the run of play, when a rare reds attack won a penalty corner and up stepped Ian Sloan to dispatch the ball, like an exocet missile into the Garvey goal.
Eight minutes later it was game over for Garvey, this time Mark Crooks carved his way along the right flank to send in an inch perfect pass, which was met first time by Stephen Sloan to claim his third goal of the season.
And just before the final hooter went, Garvey at last got that elusive goal, when Jason Lynch squirmed the ball into the net but it was all too late for the blues.