THREE is the magic number!
It has been a week of mixed success for Banbridge Academy at the traditional schools’ hockey finals week.
The school won three of their five finals, losing two.
The first XI retained the Burney Cup for the third year in a row, cementing their place as Ulster and Ireland’s top schoolboy hockey team.
And it took an extra-time goal from the returning Josh Moffatt, who had been out injured for seven-and-a-half months with a hamstring problem, to ensure that the cup came back to the Lurgan Road as the Academy beat Friends School, Lisburn 3-2.
Banbridge Academy coach, Steven Dawson praised the character of his side.
He said: “We started extremely well, going two goals up and then switched off for a while.
“Friends put us under a lot of pressure, particularly in the second half and in some respects I was quite happy to get to extra time.
“Friends were there for the challenge but we always do it the hard way and at least we got there.
“We had six guys who left last year and to bring in players to fill those places and win an Irish Schools and Burney Cup, is a fantastic achievement by the team.
“Josh has a knack of being in the right place at the right time and he certainly knows where the goal is.”
The firsts earned the congratulations of local MLA Jo-Anne Dobson who said, “I was delighted when I heard that Banbridge Academy had, for the third time in a row, won the prestigeous All Ireland Burney Cup.
“The boys deserve to be warmly congratulated for this significant achievement as it continues a proud record of wins for the Academy since 2010.
“I would also like to commend the work of the coaching staff at the school who clearly have a winning formula for sporting success.”
Master in charge of Boy’s Hockey, Mark Cordiner, added, “Warren Adams from Newry Olympic HChas worked superbly with all sides this year on their physical conditioning – a huge part of the game at any level.”
However there were defeats for the school’s Second string to Friends in the Dowdall Cup, also against Friends, and in the Bannister Bowl where the U13s lost to Royal and Prior from Donegal.
But there was successes for the U14s and U14s in the Ferris Cup, which was shared with Methodist College, Belfast, and the Richardson Cup after they beat Friends 2-1/
For coverage and pictures see pages 50-51 of this week’s Leader.