‘Our boys deserve one more win’: Cordner

Academy have cruised through to the Burney Cup final with little difficulty, dismantling Royal and Prior in the semi-final with a 7-1 success. Pic: Roland White / Presseye
Academy have cruised through to the Burney Cup final with little difficulty, dismantling Royal and Prior in the semi-final with a 7-1 success. Pic: Roland White / Presseye

Banbridge Academy Coach Mark Cordner reckons his side have what it takes to taste success together one last time.

Cordner is no stranger to cup finals, having shepherded his Academy sides to countless deciders but few have the back-story of the 2015 Burney Cup final.

With such history between two groups of players, the coach knows what a spectacle this one is likely to be.

“Playing Wallace at their home patch is always a special day,” he said. “There is always a very respectful crowd and they’re a good side, well drilled and playing well under Errol Lutton.

“We played at Newry together so we know each other well and there’s a lot of respect between the two of us.

“It’s going a be a really high quality final.”

The prize on offer, of course, is what would be a fourth senior double for the school, all since the 05/06 season when Cordner led them to both McCullough and Burney successes for the first time.

“It’s special when you win any double but to do it at senior level is even better,” he said. “That would go along with our seconds, who are in the Dowdall Cup final. That’s a credit to them and David Agnew. There’s some really good work happening at senior level at the Academy and it’s linked in well with what the club are doing.

“There’s been a good relationship between Mark Tumilty and I. We’ve worked to get the best out of the players and has seen the likes of Sam Farson and Timmy Watt breaking into the senior squad at the club. That’s really helped us. It gives real confidence amongst the camp and shows the other guys that they can move up to senior club hockey.”

Last season, Bann failed to win either of the trophies after Wallace’s late rally in the Burney final.

“We were a wee bit aggrieved maybe to lose after leading with 30 seconds to play but they fully deserved it,” Cordner reflected. “They showed good character, fought to the end and we have to take that on board.
“We did ourselves justice in the McCullough this year so hopefully we can get that same level of performance on Wednesday.

“There’s a good overlap from last year in this squad and those guys have really come on. They’ve gained another year’s experience.

“The younger players have stepped up as well and have done really well for us. It’s all been very pleasing so far this year.

“This team has won everything there is to win and hopefully they can win one last trophy together.”

The Academy coach also pointed out how big a role role the competition has played in the town’s history.

He said: “Rugby’s Schools’ Cup gets massive support all across Ulster. Hockey would be seen as the ugly brother but it’s part of tradition in Banbridge. It’s a big thing for the town and something that we’re very proud of. We’ve been in it a long time and this will be our 28th final.

“If we can get a win on Wednesday, we would be just one win behind Friends as the most successful Burney Cup side. That would be important to us.”