CHAMPIONS AT LAST

Mandatory Credit: Rowland White/Presseye'Men's Hockey: Premier'Teams: Lisnagarvey (blue) v Banbridge (red)'Venue: Lisnagarvey'Date: 9th March 2013'Caption: Banbridge celebrate
Mandatory Credit: Rowland White/Presseye'Men's Hockey: Premier'Teams: Lisnagarvey (blue) v Banbridge (red)'Venue: Lisnagarvey'Date: 9th March 2013'Caption: Banbridge celebrate

GOOD things come to those who wait - and for Banbridge Hockey Club their 24-year Ulster League title drought finally came to an end on Saturday.

It meant that Mark Tumilty could finally tick winning the league off his list of targets - securing the title was one of the Banbridge coach’s aims when he was appointed to the job in 2009.

“I’m absolutely delighted to have won the title,” he said. “At the end of every season people always say that the best team wins the league, and I believe that we were the best team in Ulster this year.”

The stats back up Tumilty’s claim, with Bann having gone unbeaten all season, including 15 wins from their 17 games so far, and having scored 77 goals, almost 20 more than anybody else.

“Over the years we hadn’t been as consistent as we would have liked. This year we were and we’ve reaped the benefits,” he said.

“There’s a lot of work goes into the league in terms of match preparation and for that a lot of credit has to go to the coaching staff. To go 17 games unbeaten is no mean feat.”

Saturday’s game got off to a nervy start but the Havelock Park side came good in the second half with a performance Tumilty described as “possibly our best 35 minutes of hockey all season.”

However, Tumilty feels that there is more to come from his side and that adding the Irish Cup - the only competition he hasn’t won with Banbridge - would be the icing on the cake.

“This should only be the start of something amazing at Banbridge,” he said.

“We are still competing in the Irish Cup and the Irish Hockey League and if the boys perform we will be there or thereabouts come the end of those competitions.”

He added, “I think the key to our success this season has been that we identified very early on how we wanted to play and, thankfully, it all came together for us.

“We’ve not had as many schoolboys who were involved in games on a Saturday morning, plus we haven’t struggled as badly this season with injuries.

“In fact everything just seemed to go right for us whether it was on or off the pitch. It’s been a fantastic season for us.”

The main focus will now be on Bann’s Irish Senior Cup semi-final against Pembroke Wanderers next Saturday, a game which Tumilty says will be difficult for the local.

Before that, though, unbeaten Bann travel to winless Mossley this Friday night in their final game of the league campaign.

- BANBRIDGE Seconds managed to round off a fantastic weekend for the club when they booked their place in the Irish Junior Cup final with a 6-5 win over Cookstown.

The locals will play Monkstown in the final at UCD on April 7.