Banbridge Academy U13 XI won the Bannister Bowl after defeating Campbell College 3-1 at a packed Playball Stormont last Wednesday.
The Banbridge side went into the final as firm favourites, after going undefeated so far this season, but they were wary that their East Belfast opponents would be no push-over.
The Academy boys started the strongly, winning a number of early penalty corners through Josh Brownlee and Daniel Reid’s attacking prowess.
They were extremely unlucky not to take the lead when Matthew Stevenson’s drag flick went wide by a hair’s breadth.
The Academy side continued to dominate the game and it seemed only a matter of time before the first goal would go in for Bann.
In fact, it took until midway through the half before Daniel Reid made the breakthrough with a poacher’s finish at the back post after a great run from Brownlee.
Campbell College rallied their troops and retaliated with some strong attacks.
They were unfortunate not to equalise when the Bann defence was split open but the forward shot wide.
The second half started with Campbell feeling the pressure early on.
Banbridge won a succession of penalty corners but it looked as if it was to no avail until finally, Year 8 pupil Adam McKee, coolly knocked in a rebound off the keeper’s pads.
The Academy boys didn’t take their foot off the pedal as they were now completely dominant and attacking at will.
Campbell could not move the ball out of their defence and Josh Brownlee sublimely penalised them to crown the victory.
With the game now all but over, Campbell found a bit of strength to clinch a goal in the dying minutes but the final whistle brought delight to all from the Academy as they returned the Bannister Bowl to the Lurgan Road for the first time in three years.
Coach Colin Walker was thrilled that his young guns had kept their unbeaten run going and now had silverware to show for all their efforts during the season.