Banbridge Academy U13s cruised to Bannister Bowl success with a 4-0 win over Cookstown HS last week.
The final proved to be a battle of styles as the power and directness of the Cookstown High boys wasn’t enough to cope with the passing and skill of captain Mark Cowan’s team.
The game started with Cookstown immediately putting Bann under pressure, with the ball crashed into the circle at every opportunity. Josh Gibson in centre defence dealt with them admirably in the difficult conditions.
After good work at the back from Christian Fee, Chris Curry’s persistence in attack earned a penalty corner for the Academy.
Up stepped Edward Rowe to drill the ball home with a powerful shot that nearly took the Cookstown keeper into the back of the net with it.
After that goal, momentum shifted and Bann were now very much on top.
Curry’s great work cutting in from the right flank saw him hit the post and forwards Charlie Rowe and Louis Rowe were unlucky not to beat the goalkeeper who somehow was keeping his side in the game.
On the stroke of half-time, Matthew McClimonds had a great chance to double the lead but his effort failed to trouble the keeper.
Cookstown started strongly in the second half and were a constant threat around the Banbridge circle.
Great defending from Jamie McArdle and Lewis Groves gave the Tyrone men few chances to score but goalkeeper Elliott Haw was on top form as he saved a succession of penalty corners.
The Academy boys had to dig deep to stay on top but Matthew McClimonds eased the pressure when he scored from open play midway through the half, with a strike that gave the keeper no chance.
After Mark Cowan saw his effort from a penalty corner hit the post, Bann went further in front from another penalty corner.
Edward Rowe’s drag flick beat the keeper high into the net and the Academy boys felt they had victory in their grasp.
To put the icing on the cake, McClimonds scored again after a great counter-attack with the keeper failing in his scramble to keep the ball out of the net.
On the final whistle, the Academy boys were ecstatic as their hard work and determination all season had paid off and they were Ulster Hockey Bannister Bowl Champions.