Bann duo are history makers

Banbridge Hockey Club's Matthew Bell and Eugene Magee show off their bronze medals.
Banbridge Hockey Club's Matthew Bell and Eugene Magee show off their bronze medals.

‘Words can’t describe’ Eugene Magee’s year so far - and it’s little wonder!

Along with team-mate Matthew Bell, the Banbridge skipper now has his hands on a EuroHockey bronze medal.

Ireland's Matthew Bell celebrates after Ireland win the Bronze Medal match at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London. Photo: Simon Cooper/PA Wire

Ireland's Matthew Bell celebrates after Ireland win the Bronze Medal match at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London. Photo: Simon Cooper/PA Wire

The local duo helped Ireland to a 4-2 victory over hosts England to claim their first ever medal.

Magee was even on the score-sheet as he gave Ireland a 3-2 lead in a match that summed up a year of success.

“It’s a really special feeling,” said Eugene. “Our objective was always to get a medal so it feels great to come home having achieved that. I can’t really put the year into words. I’ve been trying for so long to achieve those things and they’ve all come along at once.”

Magee, of course, lifted four titles for Banbridge last season, including the elusive Irish Senior Cup, then helped Ireland to the brink of Olympic qualifications, and now he’s a European medal winner.

Ireland celebrate with their Bronze medal at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London. Photo: Simon Cooper/PA Wire

Ireland celebrate with their Bronze medal at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, London. Photo: Simon Cooper/PA Wire

He said: “Our goals with Ireland are certainly a lot higher now, with what we have achieved. We’ll be taking a lot of confidence from it all.

“We know we can compete with the top sides and we know that we will always be going out to win every game.”

Ireland began the tournament with a 4-3 victory over France and then bounced back from defeat to eventual runners-up Germany by ousting Belgium with a
2-0 win.

“That was such a big achievement for us,” said Eugene.

“It was an amateur side coming up a professionally funded side and that made it even more special.”

The came a narrow 1-0 semi-final defeat to winners Holland before the thrilling bronze medal success.

“We had a game-plan to deal with Holland and for large periods it worked but not enough to get us the result.

“We fixed that for the final game and everybody did their job.

“There was a lot of last-ditch stuff in our circle but our defence were absolutely superb.

“It was incredible when we got that realisation that we had achieved what we had worked so hard for.”

Now it’s a brief break before Eugene and Matthew return to Banbridge for the IHL opener and Magee, when they intend to build on a year of unparalleled success.