Champagne flows as Bann finally get their hands on the big one

BANBRIDGE have been crowned Ulster Hockey’s Premiership champions and they intend to make up for lost time.

It may be 24 years since the last Ulster League title was at Havelock Park, but according to Bann’s jubilant coach Mark Tumilty, this is only the beginning of bigger and greater things to come.

Tumilty said: “Leagues are not easy to win, as I know only to well as a player.

“This is a young team, we have several schoolboys in the squad and players who have just left school.

“It has taken us 24 years to win the league and I think we could dominate for the next few years

“I am absolutely delighted with the result, but we didn’t play at all in the first half and it wouldn’t have taken to have anyone of a delicate nature to be about the changing room, as they wouldn’t have wanted to hear the team talk at half time.

“We were very nervous in the first half but thankfully we put that right in the second half. Fair play to Garvey they came at us but we deserved the point, as I feel we were the best team overall this year and we have proved that.

“It is a huge achievement by everyone and we will enjoy tonight and I will enjoy it as much as everyone else.

“But we have to start preparations straight away, as in two weeks time we have the semi-finals of the Irish Senior Cup and that’s the one we want.”

But Garvey came everso close to spoiling the party. After only nine minutes on the clock, Timmy Cockram appeared to have got the opening goal, only for it to be ruled out for an earlier infringement.

However, Cockram had the final say, when he made no mistake slotting the ball home in the 25th minute.

It was all Garvey, as Bann were not in the mood to join the party. The normal solid Bann defence looked nervous as Cockram, Andy Forrest, and Greg Thompson ran them ragged.

But as the second half got underway, it was obvious the half time team talk had worked, as Bann began to press Garvey’s back line.

And 15 minutes into the half, up stepped their ace goal scorer, Stevie Dowds, to fire home one of his trade mark drag flicks to level the game.

Bann were back in the game and now it was their turn to begin to show the form that has taken them through the season undefeated. Josh Moffet and Peter Brown were outstanding, as their piercing runs had Garvey on the back foot.

And as the final whistle went, they had got the point they needed to bring the Keightley Cup back to Havelock Park and the champagne corks began popping.

Speaking after the game, Dowds who had scored the all important goal for Bann said: “It wasn’t one of our prettiest performances of the season but I am just delighted that we have done it.

“It was good to get the goal and a nice way to win it and a nice place to win to.

“We got there and that’s what’s most important.

“We will do some celebrating but then we have to concentrate on the Irish Cup. We want to win that this season as well,” he added.