HOCKEY: Four out of five ain’t bad

Banbridge Hockey Club men's first XI missed out on the clean sweep when Monkstown inflicted only Bann's first defeat of what has been a historic season for the club in the IHL final. Pic: Stevie Dowds in action against Monkstown at Three Rock Rovers on Sunday. wINPHO/Gary Carr
Banbridge Hockey Club men's first XI missed out on the clean sweep when Monkstown inflicted only Bann's first defeat of what has been a historic season for the club in the IHL final. Pic: Stevie Dowds in action against Monkstown at Three Rock Rovers on Sunday. wINPHO/Gary Carr

There was a sting in the tail of what has still been an outstanding season for Banbridge Hockey Club.

Beaten by Monkstown in Sunday’s IHL final, the local lads fell at the final hurdle in their quest for a historic clean sweep and an unbeaten season.

Nonetheless, it’s been nothing short of a remarkable campaign with the Anderson Cup, Kirk Cup, Ulster Premier League and, most importantly, the Irish Senior Cup, all in the heaving Havelock Park trophy cabinet this season.

“It has still been a great season and it’s important to focus on that, as hard as it is now,” said Head Coach Mark Tumilty. “If you had offered me the season we have had at the start of the year, I’d have bitten your arm off.”

Club President Sheree Totton heaped praise on her boys after the weekend’s season finale.

“We are so very proud of what they have achieved,” she said. “To win four trophies and to finish runners up in the IHL is really incredible and a massive credit to the coaching team and players.

“The whole club is delighted with what they have delivered and, on behalf of all our members, supporters and friends I would like to wholeheartedly congratulate this team on an incredible season.

“We now look forward to seeing this talented squad continue to grow and progress as they enter the new Irish Hockey League and play in Europe next season.”

The clean sweep was still on course on Saturday evening after a Matthew Bell double had helped Bann to a 2-1 semi-final win over Pembroke.

But on Sunday, despite Bann’s constant pressure, Monkstown edged out a 2-1 final victory.

“I couldn’t have asked for any more from the team,” said Tumilty.

“I thought we played very, very well on Sunday. We were the best team and their coach and players admitted that after the game.”

see page 35