Crunch time for Bann teams

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Banbridge is set for a bumper weekend of sport as both Banbridge Hockey Club and Banbridge Town have crucial matches in their seasons.

The EY Irish Hockey Champions Trophy Finals will be hosted at Havelock Park this weekend, and Bann coach Mark Tumilty is desperate to end it as champions.

Banbridge captain Eugene Magee has a busy weekend ahead. INBL1615-26EB

Banbridge captain Eugene Magee has a busy weekend ahead. INBL1615-26EB

However, Tumilty has said Banbridge are going to need ‘strong umpires’ if they’re to come out on top this weekend.

Bann take on Irish Cup winners Monkstown in Saturday’s semi-final (pass-back 5pm) and will hope to come up against either IHL champions Lisnagarvey or Pembroke Wanderers in Sunday’s decider.

Tumilty commented: “There will be a good crowd out and it will be a great weekend to be involved in.

“We go in as massive underdogs. Garvey are heavy favourites and in our semi, Monkstown will be fancied.

Conor Downey will be a key man hoping to fire Town to safety. INBL1617-254PB

Conor Downey will be a key man hoping to fire Town to safety. INBL1617-254PB

“The group is capable of getting a result. We’re hitting form at the right time.

“Getting into the play-offs was always the goal and if we win this weekend, it will be a great season,” he said.

Meanwhile, Banbridge Town will be aiming to secure their survival in the NIFL Championship 2 when they travel to Sport & Leisure Swifts on Saturday.

Town’s position in the league is not yet secure and the focus now shifts to their last game, kick off 3.00pm at Glen Road Heights.

Manager Ryan Watson said his team showed hunger and desire as they secured a point on Saturday against table-toppers PSNI, and he has called on them to repeat the performance this weekend in their final fixture.

“I was very pleased with the performance,” Watson said. “We had a game plan ahead of the game, and that game plan was executed really well.

“The team showed tremendous commitment, hunger, desire, quality. We thoroughly deserved, in my opinion, to win.

“It was a pleasing performance, tinged with disappointment that we didn’t win, but it could be an absolutely valuable point for us.”

Watson knows his side are not yet safe, but he is confident they can secure their league place away to Sport & Leisure, especially given Town’s away form this season.

“The message this week from me is ‘same again’,” said Watson.

“We need the exact same organisation and commitment, hunger, desire, motivation and quality in the final third.

“We’re going there looking for a win. I don’t know if a point will be enough.

“It’s in our own hands, we can look after ourselves and if we perform well, we’ll be grand.

“Sport & Leisure away is always a tough fixture. We know it’s a hard place to go, but we can take great confidence out of our away form this season.

“Being away doesn’t really matter, we know this is a big game, it’s the last game.

“We need to get the job done, get the points and get safe,” Watson concluded.