BANBRIDGE comprehensively dismantled Cookstown with a precise performance to ease into the men’s Irish Hockey League final, blowing away Ulster rivals Cookstown with three goals in each half.
It was delightful at times, picking myriad passes through a usually formidable reds back four while Stephen Dowds’ pace and direct running unlocked plenty of avenues of attack.
He flicked home the first in the fourth minute after his initial chance was saved off the line by Matthew Rollins. Peter Brown recovered it, rolled it back across to Dowds six yards out who finished easily.
His reverse was volleyed home expertly by Bruce McCandless to close the first quarter at 2-0. That became three with a peach, Philip Brown picking out Colin Dowds through the eye of a needle and he bounced it around Ian Hughes to Scott Caruth for the simplest of finishes.
Caruth’s second came on three quarter time, again an easy finish after Josh Moffett played him in. Greg Allen got one back from the penalty spot but, to ram the point home, Dane Ward scrambled in a fifth and Hugh McShane netted another cracker after an 80-metre counter-attack, clipping home the crispest of shots.
They advanced to meet Monkstown in the final, the other stand-out team in this year’s competition to date.
Along with booking their place in the final, the win also ensured that the locals had qualified for European action next season.
Banbridge: G Lennox, St Forbes, Sc Forbes, Pe Brown, B McCandless, S Dowds, S Magowan, Ph Brown, D Ward, D Carlisle, H McShane
Subs: J Moffett, J McKee, C Dowds, O Magee, S Caruth
Cookstown: I Hughes, M Rollins, G Irwin, R Millar, E Butler, S Todd, A Barbour, S Sloan, D Best, J Ames, G Allen
Subs: G Cuddy, P Thompson, A McWhirter, S Smyth, M Rooney, A Smyth, M Anderson