HOCKEY: ‘We did it for the club’ says Banbridge’s Bell

Matthew Bell put in two top performances for Banbridge HC over the weekend.  Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye

Matthew Bell put in two top performances for Banbridge HC over the weekend. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye

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Banbridge star Matthew Bell says the team’s qualification for KO16 is a big thank-you to their club.

Bell and his Bann team-mates made it through round one of the Euro Hockey League last weekend, successfully ousting Belgian giants Royal Leopold in the process.

And with around 5,000 hockey fans flocking through the gates, Bell says the team’s progression was just reward for all the hard work.

“The show the club put on was unbelievable,” he said. “The Dutch guys said it was one of the best they’ve ever been at and that’s testament to the club. Roger Martin, James Bingham, Glen Marshall and my dad (John Bell) all worked so hard, and that’s only naming four of the people involved.

“We couldn’t have asked for anymore from the club.

“All we wanted to do was to put on a bit of a show on the pitch for them and thankfully we got the result.”

After beating Saint Germain HC 2-0 on Saturday, Bann needed to draw with Leopold on Sunday to progress. Two goals from Kyle Marshall added to Eugene Magee’s opener to earn a 3-3 draw and send Bann through to join Lisnagarvey in the top 16 of European hockey.

“It wasn’t easy and it took some grit but we got it done,” said Bell.

“It’s the first time we’ve played a Belgian club at that level as a squad so we had to adapt to their style but the lads were class all weekend. Everybody did their jobs.

“We always said that the EHL was a bonus for us. We focused on the EYFL but we’ve turned that bonus into an opportunity now and we’ll go again in April.

“Home advantage was huge. The supporters were unbelievable. If it wasn’t for them, it would have been a different story.”