Banbridge Hockey Club have what it takes to complete a clean sweep this season.
That’s the hopes of their latest recruit, who is full of youthful exuberance ahead of the 2014/15 season.
Peter Brown is back in the red shirt after spending just one year playing for UCD in the Leinster League.
The 20 year-old Irish international has returned to Northern Ireland after moving his studies from UCD to Queens and, now that he’s back, he’s keen to fire his hometown club to the very pinnacle of Irish hockey.
“I’d be hoping to win everything we play in this year to be honest. We have that strong a squad,” he told the ‘LEADER.’
“The last season I was here we won the league and lost in the IHL final. I really want to get back to winning trophies with Banbridge now and hopefully we’ll do that, especially with the squad we have.
“Banbridge have always had a very good team. They’ve always had around 13 players who would break into any team but I think this year is the first time that we’ve had 18 players of that calibre. It will be tough even to get into the team every week.”
The feeling around the club is that the current squad is the strongest of recent years and Head Coach Mark Tumilty knows the addition for the younger Brown brother is a big reason for that.
“He’ll be a massive boost to the group,” said Tumilty.
“He’s one of the best players in the country so I’m absolutely delighted to get him back into the squad. He plays the hockey that we try to play and in the shape we want to play. I think being at Banbridge is good for his development too because our style of play suits him so well.”
The club’s other two summer additions were Portadown duo Jamie Wright and Neil Gilmore, both of whom played in the Ulster U21 team last season. Brown is hoping that Bann’s young squad is now approaching its peak.
“The two other news lads we have brought in look very good,” he said. “I’ve played underage hockey with them and they’re both good players.
“We’ve got a lot of young players who are maturing now and have gotten a lot bigger and stronger than the last time I was at the club.
“Jonny McKee, for example, is class. I would say he will feature a lot more this season.”
Brown’s return to Havelock has already not been without its hitches though.
“I played my first pre-season match a couple of weeks ago and got my nose broken in the warm-up,” he explained.
“That wasn’t the best of starts but it’s good to be back among the lads. I love the way Banbridge play. Now that I’m living in Belfast. I was always going to play for Banbridge.”
Bann had an ultimately frustrating 13/14 term but meanwhile, in the Irish capital, Brown was helping his UCD side to a relatively successful campaign.
He said: “It was our highest ever finish, fourth in the Leinster League but our biggest achievement was getting to the Mills Cup final. We lost to Three Rockn but our season was the best a university team has ever done.
“The Leinster League is definitely more competitive. In Ulster, it’s a two horse race at the minute but in Leinster, you get a competitive match nine out of ten matches.
“I really enjoyed living away from home and being in Dublin but the university course just wasn’t going the way I was hoping it would go.
“It was strange playing against the Banbridge lads too. They beat us 4-2 the day we came up against them and they played very well.”
Now back at Bann, Brown has his eyes firmly fixed on the mouth-watering Ulster League opener against old rivals Lisnagarvey on Saturday 13 September.
“That’ll be tough,” he conceded. “Both ourselves and Garvey are pushing ourselves to get into as good shape as possible. You don’t want to lose that opener.”