HOCKEY: Academy boys must stay strong in McCullough decider

Joel Reid in action for the Academy during their semi-final victory over Sullivan, Pic: Rowland White / Presseye
Joel Reid in action for the Academy during their semi-final victory over Sullivan, Pic: Rowland White / Presseye
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Banbridge Academy will have to stick to their guns if they’re going to bring the McCullough Cup back to the Lurgan Road this week.

Mark Cordner’s side take on Donegal school Royal and Prior in Wednesday’s decider at Lisnagarvey’s Comber Road ground (pass-back 2pm).

They’ll need to do better than the last time the sides met, when the visitors emerged 4-1 victors at the Academy in the group-stages of the competition.

Coach Cordner, though, knows that this would be the perfect time for his side to get their own back.

“We’ve improved a lot since that first game in September,” he said.

“We’re expecting a physical game and they’ll play with quick counter-attacking hockey.

“They’re a good team and they showed their prowess in the Irish Schoolboys’, only beaten by a single goal by St Andrew’s.

“Their unsung hero has been their goalkeeper. We found him hard to beat from short corners the last time we played them so we know we’ll have to be good to get past him.

“The lads have been working extremely hard in training and we have to make sure we play our normal brand of passing hockey. We’re not going to be drawn into a sword-fight.”

Sinton’s At The Bridge sponsored Academy will even have two third year pupils within their ranks as Edward Rowe and Chris Curry take their place in the squad.

Edward, of course, is the brother of co-captain Jake, who will no doubt play a pivotal role alongside fellow skipper and Banbridge HC first team player Kyle Marshall if the Academy are to win the tie.

Bann have won this trophy eight times while their opponents are appearing in their first major final since the Burney Cup in 2008.