SEASON’S GREETINGS

BANBRIDGE coach Mark Tumilty has high expectations ahead of the start of the new hockey season, which gets underway tomorrow (Wednesday).

Tumilty, who this season will be assisted by Scott McCandless, is chasing after two of hockey’s biggest prizes

“I still want to win the Ulster League because it must be almost 25 years since we won that, but I think we have to be looking at the All-Ireland League and the Irish Cup.

“Having been working with the guys all summer I feel that we have the squad and the ability to be there or thereabouts come the crunch end of the season.

“Lisnagarvey and Monkstown will probably be the teams to look out for but I’m confident enough this time.”

Bann travel to Civil Service’s Stormont base tomorrow night (8pm) to begin their Kirk Cup challenge before going to Instonians on Saturday (1pm), with games against Mossley and Lisnagarvey to follow in their group.

And after what was a poor season by their standards Tumilty has real belief that this campaign will be very different.

“Pre-season has gone well for us, it has probably been the best we have had since I have been in charge,” he said.

“And that’s even when you take into account the fact that we’ve had a number of injuries and players missing for various reasons. I think we had 10 players missing on Saturday for the game with Glenanne.

“We look better physically and although we haven’t been able to bring in any new players but we now have fewer schoolboys in the team as they’ve grown up. We had five last year and this year we have just two.”

And while there has been no new playing personnel Tumilty believes he has been boosted by the return of three others.

“Josh Moffatt has scored in all but one of our pre-season games so far, and we’re really happy to have him back because he has been missing for 18 months with a hamstring problem.

“He’s worked hard, as have all the guys - in fact they’ve all added an extra Sunday morning training session into their schedule which is working wonders for us.

“Colin Dowds and Simon Magowan are both back as well - it’s like having three new signings.

“On top of that because we have fewer schoolboys it means that those guys now have fewer committments on a Saturday. Owen Magee, for example, has got a whole new sharpness even though he has been injured for a while.”