Banbridge Mens and Ladies 3s have a big weekend ahead, bidding to secure a Cup double for the club.
They’re both playing in finals at Civil Service on Saturday, the mens’ team bidding to win the McClements Cup and the ladies going for glory in the Minor Cup.
The teams will be skippered by fledgling captains Gareth Matthews and Rachel Groves, who are dreaming of ending their first season with the armbands by lifting the trophies.
Rachel’s team are first up, taking on Queens 4s at 12.15pm.
“I’m a bit nervous already and it’s only Monday,” she told the ‘LEADER.’
“Some of the younger girls have been in a final before but is is a big deal for the older girls. We’re playing a team two leagues below us so we can go in confident but we don’t want to be too cocky either.”
Bann 3s have already secured promotion to Junior Six this season and are still in with a chance of doing the league and cup double.
“It’s more than we could have imagined,” said Rachel.
“The girls all seem to have gelled really well this season. We have a good mix of young and older players and we have a great coach in Dane Ward. We’re all friendly with him so there’s no tension there or anything.
“It’s my first year up in the third 11. I didn’t expect to be captain after stepping up or for us to do this well.”
They’ll welcome back key forward Melissa Whan for Saturday’s big game.
“We’ve got Melissa back from a sprained ankle which will be really important for us,” said the captain.
“Jenny Wilson in midfield will be another important player for us and we’ll have Amy and katie Carson, two young players who have really improved this year, in there as well.”
The two teams will travel down to the finals together and the girls will stay on to support the boys, who, on paper, have the more difficult task. They take on Kilkeel 2s at 2.30pm and their skipper Gareth Matthews knows it won’t be easy.
He said: “It’ll certainly be a big test for us playing a team in the league above us but we go in with the attitude that it’s a shot to nothing. We’re big underdogs and nobody is expecting anything from us.
“If all the players play to their potential, there’s no reason why we can’t win though. We’re on a good run of form after a big win on Saturday that secured our survival. It was a really good performance. We’re passing the ball and moving it well. We’ll also have a Robbie Scott coming back in after he was rested on Saturday.”
It’s been a season of rebuilding for Gareth but it’s a year he could cap off in stunning fashion.
“Being captain has been a challenge but it’s been very rewarding,” he said. “It’s great even to get to the final, especially considering that it’s mainly teams in the league above us in it.
“It would be even better to get the win. I don’t think the club has won it in seven or eight years so it would be nice to end that and on a personal level, obviously it would be great to win in my first year as captain.
“This has been our first season after dropping down from Junior Two but we lost a lot of players who went to uni. A lot of this team is last year’s 4s but everyone has stepped up to the mantle. We have a lot of young guys in the squad and they’ve been brilliant this season.”