We have the best squad in Ireland says Tumilty

Lisnagarvey's Jonny Bell and Banbridge's Drew Carlisle in action in the Anderson Cup final. Pic by  Rowland White / PessEye
Lisnagarvey's Jonny Bell and Banbridge's Drew Carlisle in action in the Anderson Cup final. Pic by Rowland White / PessEye

Banbridge Head Coach Mark Tumilty has thrown down the gauntlet to his side and demanded they bring more silverware back to Havelock Park.

With the summer additions of Peter Brown, Jamie Wright and Neil Gilmore, Tumilty reckons he has the “best squad in Ireland” at his disposal. Not only that, but he says it’s the best squad Banbridge have ever had, eclipsing the four-times Ulster League winners of the 1980s. And with his side reaching maturity, the boss says it’s time to deliver.

“Silverware is how we’ll be judged come the end of the season and we need to perform,” he said.

“With the squad we have, we should be competitive. All of them have had three or four years in senior hockey so it’s now time to develop and that’s from myself downwards. As a whole club, we have to achieve this year.

“I think there’s pressure on the group this year and there will be pressure added by me as well because it’s near time we started to win things. We can’t keep saying it’ll be next year. No it won’t. It’s got to be this year.

“We’ve got eight boys involved in the Ireland squad and then we have Jonny McKee and Jamie Scott who are U21 internationals and Gareth Lennox in goals. We have a squad full of internationals. Nobody else will have that number.

“On paper, everybody is going to say we’re the ones with the best squad. I’m not going to hide behind that.

“It’s the best squad Banbridge have had. The squad in the 80s had better personalities but in relation to players with international caps, this group of players with everybody fully fit will certainly be the best I’ve coached.”

With the Anderson Cup already safely housed at Havelock Park, the boss isn’t ruling out a clean sweep of trophies this season.

“We’re now at a stage as a group that we can be competitive in everything,” he said.

“If I’m honest, I think we’ll fight to win everything we’re in. All five of them are there and we’ve already got the first one.

“The Ulster League and Kirk Cup, I’d be keen to be competitive in and I’d like to win one of the All Ireland competitions.

“The minimum I will be happy with at the end of the year is one All Ireland trophy and the Ulster League. I’d love to get the league back again. There will be a different approach by us this year. We won’t be reshuffling as much. We need as many goals as we can.”

The season will be interrupted by international commitments, particularly after Christmas when the Olympic qualification process begins. With Eugene Magee also out for the next eight weeks, Tumilty reckons he has the depth to cope.

He said: “There’ll be competition in the squad, which we didn’t have last year. It’ll not be easy to leave guys out but that’s sport.

“We have a big enough squad as long as there aren’t further injuries. The international boys will be doing their two club sessions a week so that gives us a chance. They’re doing gym sessions at 6.30am three times a week so that takes its toll but on the other side, they’ll be better players for it.

“Trying to manage that is a challenge. We need them to feel fresh and when they don’t give them a rest.”

Banbridge travel to Comber Road to take on Lisnagarvey in the mouth-watering Ulster League opener on Saturday (Pass-Back 2.30pm).