BANN travelled to Dublin to take on Fingal in their rearranged Irish Junior Cup last 16 match knowing the winners would be away to Cork Church of Ireland in the next round.
Philip Doyle returned to the squad after a long absence and Jonny McKee was available again after being away with the Irish under 18’s the previous weekend.
Fingal started strongly and pinned Banbridge back in their own half for the first 10 minutes however were unable to create any goalscoring opportunities. Bann eventually managed to find some fluency on the slow pitch and after Bell turned strongly in the Fingal circle was able to slot the ball low past the Fingal keeper to give Bann the lead.
Bann thought they had doubled their lead when McCandless thundered the ball into the top left hand corner from a short corner but the umpire ruled that the ball had not come out of the circle.
Bann continued to press forward and after Wood’s won another short corner Bann extended their lead. A poor push out from the short corner was stopped by McKee on his front stick and after he eliminated the front runner pushed the ball inside to McCandless who flicked the ball low into the Fingal goal.
Bann’s two goal advantage did not last long as Fingal scored their second short corner of the game with a low flick into the bottom corner of the goal. Both teams created further chances towards the end of the half but could not make the breakthrough.
Fingal pressed forward straight from the push back in the second half and O’Neill saved well from a quick Fingal attack. Bell and Woods were creating problems for the Fingal defence and after entering the Fingal circle Woods was upended and won another short corner. McCandless made no mistake from the top of the circle firing the ball high to give the Fingal keeper no chance.
With a two goal deficit Fingal pressed forward and after some poor marking in the Bann defence a Fingal attacker squared the ball across the circle for another attacker to slot the ball past O’Neill. Fingal were buoyed by the goal and equalised shortly after with a strong strike from the top of the circle.
With 10 minutes left in the half both sides looked for a winner and exchanged short corner chances however neither team managed to find the crucial winner. Extra time beckoned with two halves of five minutes to be played with the silver goal applying to extra time.
Fingal won a short corner in the first minute however O’Neill saved well and Bann were able to scramble the ball away to safety.
Bann managed to regain some control after the early scare and after McCandless found Stergeon clear going down the right hand side of the pitch he entered the Fingal 25 and crashed a great ball into the circle which Bell deflected past the Fingal keeper from the penalty spot.
With two minutes to go Bann failed to hold their lead after Fingal worked the ball well into the Bann circle and a Fingal player slotted the ball into the Bann goal from close range.
Both teams looked to see out the rest of the half however after a great run from Woods a short corner was awarded to Bann just before the half time whistle went. All players surrounded the circle and after the initial drag flick was well saved by the Fingal keeper the ball fell to Burns. His thunderous shot was saved by the Fingal keeper but Malcolmson made no mistake with the rebound to send Bann through to the next round of the cup on the silver goal rule.
Bann now face Cork Church of Ireland in the quarter finals in Cork on February 23 however have a crucial league fixture at home to Garvey next weekend.