Bann boss backs young squad to win big matches in quest for glory

Peter Brown on the attack for Bann against Mossley. Pic: Rowland White / Presseye.
Peter Brown on the attack for Bann against Mossley. Pic: Rowland White / Presseye.

Banbridge coach Mark Tumilty reckons his side now have what it takes to make winning trophies a regular occurence.

After a frustrating season last term, this time Tumilty’s side already have the Anderson Cup in the cabinet and are still in with a chance of winning every other competition they entered.

Mandatory Credit: Rowland White / PressEye'Men's Hockey: GOC Estate Agents Kirk Cup Semi-Final'Teams: Banbridge (white) v Mossley (yellow)'Venue: Shawsbridge'Date: 16th November 2014'Caption: Stephen Dowds, Banbridge

Mandatory Credit: Rowland White / PressEye'Men's Hockey: GOC Estate Agents Kirk Cup Semi-Final'Teams: Banbridge (white) v Mossley (yellow)'Venue: Shawsbridge'Date: 16th November 2014'Caption: Stephen Dowds, Banbridge

And when the heat is on, Tumilty says his boys will rise to the challenge.

“I think our players are getting to the stage that, on the big days, I fancy them,” he said.

“They’ve shown that already this season when they were 3-3 at Garvey and won and 2-1 down against Cookstown and won 5-3. Then on Saturday when we were 1-0 up, pushing for the second and pegged back, I think a year ago they might have buckled.

“There’s a maturity coming about them now and that’s a big thing. Plenty of work still to be done though and they have to keep it going.”

Mandatory Credit: Rowland White / PressEye'Men's Hockey: GOC Estate Agents Kirk Cup Semi-Final'Teams: Banbridge (white) v Mossley (yellow)'Venue: Shawsbridge'Date: 16th November 2014'Caption: Neil Gilmore, Banbridge

Mandatory Credit: Rowland White / PressEye'Men's Hockey: GOC Estate Agents Kirk Cup Semi-Final'Teams: Banbridge (white) v Mossley (yellow)'Venue: Shawsbridge'Date: 16th November 2014'Caption: Neil Gilmore, Banbridge

They certainly made light work of Mossley in the Kirk Cup semi-final on Sunday afternoon. Goals from Matthew Bell (2), Bruce Mccandless (2), Stephen Dowds (2), Jamie Wright and Jonny McKee led Bann to a straight-forward 8-0 victory. Dowds’ strikes brought him up to a stunning 41 for the season so far.

“He’s leading the group well and he’s playing well,” said Tumilty.

“People say that he scores corners. He does but he’s scoring goals from open play and he’s also ctreating chances. He’s really improved his game this season and his fitness is good. I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t involved with Ireland now.

“Fair play to Stevie, he took both of his chances very well against Three Rock as well and fair play to the umpire, it was very good work to let our second goal stand. We could have had a corner but he played advantage and we scored.”

Mandatory Credit: Rowland White / PressEye'Men's Hockey: GOC Estate Agents Kirk Cup Semi-Final'Teams: Banbridge (white) v Mossley (yellow)'Venue: Shawsbridge'Date: 16th November 2014'Caption: Timmy Watt, Banbridge

Mandatory Credit: Rowland White / PressEye'Men's Hockey: GOC Estate Agents Kirk Cup Semi-Final'Teams: Banbridge (white) v Mossley (yellow)'Venue: Shawsbridge'Date: 16th November 2014'Caption: Timmy Watt, Banbridge

The team’s second and third top scorers are new signings Neil Gilmore and Jamie Wright. Jamie’s goal was his 14th of the season, one behind his ex-Portadown team-mate.

“Jamie was excellent on Sunday,” said Tumilty. “His touches and finishing were very good.

“Kyle Marshall is outstanding for his age as well. He played in the back four in both games at the weekend and was fantastic.

“I thought the guys were all professional on Sunday. Back to back games are something we have struggled with but I was pleased with how they reacted to it.

“It was tight for 20 minutes but then once we got one, they had to come out a bit and we took our chances well.”

The victory maintained Bann’s perfect start to the season and the boss is understandably delighted.

“That’s 15 wins from 15 games with over 90 goals so we can’t complain,” he said.

“Cookstown won’t be easy beaten on Boxing Day though. Cup finals can go either way. They’re a good Cup team and always seem to be able to lift themselves for the big days.”