Banbridge know they can take a huge step towards the Irish Hockey League semi-finals this weekend.

Bruce McCandless will be back for Banbridge on Saturday. Pic: Presseye.
Bruce McCandless will be back for Banbridge on Saturday. Pic: Presseye.

Banbridge know they can take a huge step towards the Irish Hockey League semi-finals this weekend.

Mark Tumilty’s lads travel south to take on Dublin side Railway Union in their fourth Pool B fixture (pass-back 2.30pm).

Bann currently sit tied second in the pool alongside rivals Lisnagarvey but with the Hillsborough side playing top team Three Rock Rovers, it’s a weekend in which Banbridge can make some ground.

“A win would leave things in our own hands against Three Rock in the last game,” said Banbridge Head Coach Mark Tumilty. “Something has got to give between them and Garvey on Saturday so if we can win this weekend, it would be a key victory.”

By the time Bann take to the pitch on Saturday afternoon, it will have been four weeks since they last played a match. Their latest call-off on Saturday was due to the passing of Mossley chariman Trevor Lorimer.

Tumilty is wary that the lack of match practice may make such an important encounter than bit more difficult.

“We’ve only played twice since Boxing Day, which is disappointing,” he said.

“From our point of view, it’s just not ideal preparation for going into this IHL game,” continued Tumilty.

“Railway got a game over them on Saturday as they lost 6-3 to Monkstown.

“Even Tuesday’s training is doubtful because the temperatures are due to dip below zero.

“Hopefully we can at least get back onto the training pitch on Thursday with a full squad because the internationals will all be back in.

“We trained on Thursday and on Saturday. The boys will maybe be lacking a bit of match fitness but there’s nothing we can do about that. At least the lads coming back from Ireland should be very sharp.”

Regardless, Tumilty is still confident his side have enough to claim the win.

“Railways have brought in some good players and are playing well this season but I still think that if we play to our ability and work hard enough, we should be strong enough to beat them,” he said.

“They are in the Irish Cup semi-final and have been competitive in the Leinster League. David Bain is coaching them now, who I would have a lot of respect for. He’s knowledgeable and thorough.

“They’ll be competitive and are a strong, physical side who will be dangerous from corners. They have got strength in depth with the likes of Kenny Carroll and Mark English there so it’ll be a tough game but hopefully we can do it.

“We’ve got a bus going down so it’ll be a big day for our club anyway.

“I just hope there’s a game and we don’t get a call on saturday morning to say the game’s off.”

Bann will welcome back Ireland quad Eugene Magee, Bruce McCandless, Stevie Dowds and Drew Carlisle from their training camp in South Africa.

Bann will only be without Philip Brown, who will be out at least a month with a knee problem.

“We just want to get him right for the Irish Cup finals weekend so that gives us eight weeks to get him back from his rehabilitation programme,” said Tumilty.