Old rivals meet at Havelock

THIS Saturday sees Bann entertain old rivals Lisnagarvey at Havelock Park in a much anticipated Premier League game.

This will be the first home game in five weeks for the locals, backed by Swallow Groupage, following their heroics on the road in the Irish Senior Cup and Premier League. Four straight wins have seen them being earmarked as the team to beat.

Bann have chalked up impressive wins at the likes of Cookstown, Fingal, and Cork Harlequins which have seen Mark Tumilty’s side progress to the semi-finals of the Irish Senior Cup and move menacingly up the Premier League.

Saturday’s game will be the second meeting of the sides this season with Bann having already tasted success of their neighbours earlier at Havelock Park in the Kirk Cup.

This clash however sees vital league points at stake and with Bann being unbeaten a win for the locals would see them begin to open up a gap over the chasing pack in terms of points lost. Garvey have dropped points with a draw at Cookstown and will be looking to put themselves back in the title hunt with a victory at Havelock Park.

Bann will be without Irish international star Bruce McCandless as he is currently with the Irish team in Argentina participating in the next stage of the Champions Challenge. However they have been boosted by the recent return of Owen Magee to the squad and with the likes of internationals Stephen Dowds, Drew Carlisle, Phillip Brown, and the rejuvenated Gareth Lennox in goals, it will be a strong Bann squad that will line up against the Hillsborough based outfit.

Garvey will be without their talented international and short corner marksman Timmy Cochrane but with players of the calibre of internationals Mark Raphael, Jonny Bell, and Brian Waring in their line-up, Bann will have to be at the top of their game to challenge for the three points on offer. Garvey will be buoyed by their recent success in the EHL, European hockey’s blue riband club championships, where they qualified for the next round following the opening games in London.

Victory for either side would set them up for the crucial run-in to the Christmas break and the half way point in the league. Last season’s league clashes saw Bann lose at Garvey while the honours were shared in the corresponding game at Havelock Park. Both games, as befits fixtures between the two great clubs, were fast paced and no place for the faint hearted.

Avid hockey fans can enjoy an afternoon of hockey at Havelock Park with Bann Ladies’ first XI entertaining Knock Ladies at 1pm in a crucial senior league game in their quest to achieve successive promotions. This will be followed by the mens’ third XI clash with Cookstown at 2.30pm.

Saturday’s game will hit-off at 4pm with Bann utilising a later start in order to host a pre-game corporate lunch and attempt to entice the local community and other hockey neutrals to Havelock Park to watch a game between two heavyweights of Irish hockey. Saturday’s game will see hot food on offer before and after the game in the clubhouse followed by live music which all in all makes Havelock Park the place to be this Saturday!