Dowds at the double to claim Bann’s second trophy of the season

Peter Brown takes the ball past Cookstown's Andrew Barbour during the Kirk Cup decider. Pic: Rowland White / Presseye.
Peter Brown takes the ball past Cookstown's Andrew Barbour during the Kirk Cup decider. Pic: Rowland White / Presseye.

Banbridge went into the Boxing Day Kirk Cup final determined to make sure they took their chance to bag some more silverware.

Capatain Eugene Magee was particularly keen to take his place in the limelight, having missed the Anderson Cup win earlier in the season.

Mandatory Credit: Rowland White / PressEye'Men's Hockey: GOC Estate Agents Kirk Cup Final'Teams: Banbridge (white) v Cookstown (red)'Venue: Lisnagarvey'Date: 26th December 2014'Caption: Owen Magee, Banbridge and Matthew McWhirter, Cookstown

Mandatory Credit: Rowland White / PressEye'Men's Hockey: GOC Estate Agents Kirk Cup Final'Teams: Banbridge (white) v Cookstown (red)'Venue: Lisnagarvey'Date: 26th December 2014'Caption: Owen Magee, Banbridge and Matthew McWhirter, Cookstown

And they made no mistake, easing to a 3-1 success over Cookstown thanks to a brace of goals from red-hot striker Stevie Dowds that built on a 15th minute opener from Fraser Mills.

Even a later consolation from the County Tyrone side couldn’t take the shine off another thrilling day in what is threatening to be a record-breaking season for the local side.

Dowds had, before the game, looked a doubt as he struggled with flu-like symptoms but even they couldn’t stop him from etching his name onto the score-sheet and Banbridge’s name on the historic trophy as he struck twice within six minutes of the restart to make it 3-0.

Soon after coming on as a rolling substitute, Fraser Mills picked up a superb cross-field pass from Bruce McCandless and strode into the circle before smashing past Cookstown keeper Ian Hughes from 10 yards out to open the scoring in the 15th minute.

Having looked invincible so far this season, it already looked like it would be a long way back for Cookstown, who failed to really threaten the Bann back line.

Banbridge could even have gone in further ahead at the break as that man Stevie Dowds crashed the post with the only penalty corner of the half. Second top socrer Neil Gilmore was also causing problems and threatened to get himself in on the act but Hughes was a match to his first-half strike.

After the restart, it didn’t take Bann long to end any doubts as to where the trophy would be going after the game.

Dowds struck twice from open play, both neatly set-up by Banbridge Academy skipper Johnny McKee.

Midfielder Peter Brown started the move by setting Dowds free on the left and when he exchanged passes with McKee, he wasn’t going to miss a golden opportunity to find the net.

McKee was again in the thick of the action for the clincher when he teed up Dowds on the edge of the area and the forward again made no mistake.

In search of his ninth hat-trick of the season so far, Dowds kept prodding at the Cookstown back line but another two penalty corners went past without reward while the striker also fired wide from open play.

Cookstown did, at least, find their way past Bann keeper Gareth Lennox near the end when Stuart Smyth took full advantage of a half clearance to smash into the net.

That did little to dampen the Banbridge celebrations come the full-time whistle though as they got their hands on the trophy for the 20th time.

BANBRIDGE (from): Gareth Lennox; Timmy Watt; Kyle Marshall; Jonny McKee; Peter Brown; Matthew Bell; Bruce McCandless; Stephen Dowds; Jamie Wright; Eugene Magee (capt); Phillip Brown; Neil Gilmore; Fraser Mills; Drew Carlisle; Hugh McShane; Aaron Reid; Owen Magee.

COOKSTOWN (from): Ian Hughes;Matthew Rollins; Raymond Miller; Ryan Millar; Godfrey Irwin; Paul Thompson; Ewan Butler; Simon Todd; Andrew Barbour; Mark Crooks; Jon Ames; Andrew McWhirter; Greg Allen (c); Andy Smyth; Stuart Smyth; Keith Black; Mark Rooney; Timmy Sloan; Josh Anderson.