Bann are left to dream of what could have been

Bruce McCandless on strike for Banbridge
Bruce McCandless on strike for Banbridge

BANBRIDGE will be reflecting why they were not playing in Sunday’s Irish Senior Cup Final, after they squandered a two goal lead to Leinster champions Pembroke Wanderers.

In front of a huge following of expectant fans, the newly crowned Ulster champions had to suffer the anguish of a penalty shoot-out, to decide the outcome of their semi-final, going down 5-4.

It will now be 28 years since the ISC was in their Havelock Park base but there again, Ulster’s relationship with the trophy has been disastrous in recent years, with Cookstown’s win two years ago being the only Ulster triumph in the last eight finals.

Bann had hoped this was going to be the season to bring the ISC home, but now their only avenue back to the European Hockey League will be through next month’s Irish Hockey League.

The County Down side couldn’t have asked for a better start when Simon Magowan fired them into the lead after only eight minutes.

And when Bruce McCandless made it 2-0 just before the turn, Bann looked to be heading to their first final in 27 years.

But with Pembroke enjoying a period of pressure early in the second half,

Alan Sothern struck when he collected a cross to slot the ball home.

It was Sothern’s 40th goal of the season and what an important goal, as three minutes later Sothern was the provider, this time setting up Maurice Elliott to score the equaliser.

But with only minutes remaining, neither team could find the elusive winner.

And even two periods of extra time could not decide the outcome, so it was down to the dreaded penalty stroke shoot out.

With it tied three strokes each, it went to sudden death and after Matthew Bell missed for Bann, Karl Lynch calmly stepped up to score the winner and sent Pembroke into the final to meet Monkstown who had earlier defeated Three Rock Rovers with a silver goal.

And the glory went to Monkstown who lifted the ISC for the first time in 99 years of trying. And the hero was New Zealander, Andy Ewington, as his extra time goal gave Monkstown the Cup defeating Pembroke Wanderers 5-4.

Corinthian qualified for the 2014 IHL after beating UCD 2-1 in the wildcard competition.