HOCKEY: ‘I’ve doubled my tally now’ says Bann hero Marshall

Double goal-scorer Kyle Marshall celebrates after the final whistle. PICS: FRANK UIJLENBROEK / WORLD SPORT PICS
Double goal-scorer Kyle Marshall celebrates after the final whistle. PICS: FRANK UIJLENBROEK / WORLD SPORT PICS

In sport, as in life, timing is everything.

For goal-shy defender Kyle Marshall, Sunday wasn’t a bad occasion to discover how to find the net.

Marshall's performance even earned a kiss.

Marshall's performance even earned a kiss.

As a schoolboy playing in one of his club’s biggest ever matches, he bagged two second half goals to send Banbridge through to the Knock-Out 16 stage of the Euro Hockey League. Not bad.

“It was ridiculous, unbelievable,” he laughed. “I’ve only ever scored two goals for the club before so that’s doubled my tally now.

“The whole weekend was class, especially to have it all at my own club. The atmosphere was brilliant.”

Marshall was speaking after managing to make it up in time for school at 9am the following morning - perhaps just as impressive a feat as his two goals.

Former Academy player Peter Brown put in a brilliant performance after his return from injury.

Former Academy player Peter Brown put in a brilliant performance after his return from injury.

And it’s in the corridors of Banbridge Academy that the victory was birthed.

Marshall and team-mate Jake Rowe are the joint-captains of the Academy’s first-team and a significant majority of the club’s squad came up through the school’s ranks.

Last year, the Academy went off to watch the Knock-Out 16 stage of the EHL. Little did Marshall know then, he would play a key role in the same tournament just months later.

“It was pretty surreal having watched all those big name players last season and now I’m playing with them,” he said.

“It helps having played in big hockey matches in front of a crowd for school before but it doesn’t quite compare to what was happening at the weekend.

“The new IHL helped us as well. It means we’re used to playing against quality, international players every week. Even training with the likes of Eugene (Magee) and Bruce (McCandless) is a big help to me.”

Marshall’s goal-scoring performance on Sunday even led to calls for an Irish call-up not too far down the line.

“He has a big future and I’d like to think the Irish coach Ned Fulton, who was there, will be taking a look at him,” said the Academy’s Master in charge of Hockey, Mark Cordner.

“It was a fantastic weekend. We were delighted that the Banbridge first team took time out to come and visit us at our hockey jamboree on Saturday morning. For the young players to see their heroes there was fantastic.

“That was backed up by the win on Saturday and then Sunday was the icing on the cake. Our joint captains Jake (Rowe) and Kyle played a massive part. Kyle’s goals showed his dedication and his belief in himself.

“Jake has a fantastic opportunity with his hockey and golf and Kyle is very hockey driven. Those guys both have a brilliant opportunity in April.

“For those guys to be playing at the Knock-Out 16 stage just one year after we went to watch it shows why we do everything like that. Hockey in the school has moved on to a different level now too. It used to be it was a massive achievement to represent Ulster, now we have guys going off to play in the KO16.

“I have to pay tribute as well to Markethill High School and to Armagh Hockey Club for the work they did in developing Kyle in junior school. This is a testament to their hard work as well.”

And as big an achievement as it was, Marshall still wasn’t going to use it as an excuse to miss class. What a guy.