IT has been over twenty years since Banbridge Hockey Club last claimed either the domestic league title or the Irish Cup, but this season the high flying side have the opportunity to end that long wait.
Head Coach Mark Tumilty says his side are in a ‘good position’ to be champions and has set his men the target of at least one trophy.
Lisnagarvey lie in wait on Saturday, January 19, as Tumilty’s men face the journey to Comber Road in one of the weekend’s most highly anticipated fixtures as leaders Bann face third placed Garvey, who have a match in hand.
Tumily said: “We’re in a good position, we have some of the most talented players about, we have to make sure we get silverware this season. We want to be back in Europe again after having been there two years ago.”
Bann made no mistake in the league with a thumping 7-1 win over Belfast Harlequins at the weekend, much to the delight of Tumilty.
“We played well in the first half and were 5-nil up at half time. It sets up this weekend for us, where hopefully we can take another three points. We have a fully fit squad and are playing well. We drew nil-all the last time we met Garvey in the league and beat them in the Kirk Cup, so if we play what we are capable of we will get three points, which will give us some breathing space,” the coach said.
“We are sitting top of the league and have been there or thereabouts the past few seasons, but we have never really finished it up.
“We have the best squad we’ve had for a long time, the players are starting to mature, and players like Peter Brown, Hugh McShane, Owen Magee and Steven Dowds have been excellent players for us.
“We are definitely competitive this season. We’re top of the Ulster League, We have the Irish Cup semi final in March and the All-Ireland league beginning in April, so it is a big four months for us.”
With things going so well for Bann, confidence is high amongst the squad and around the club, however, Tumilty is keen to keep his players’ feet firmly on the ground, with nothing yet won.
“There is a good atmosphere around the club,” he said. “We are definitely going in the right direction on and off the pitch. With the age of the group, hopefully things are just beginning for us. But we need to make sure we take it one match at a time and remain focused.
“We haven’t won the Ulster League for 22 or 23 years, we need to bridge that gap. Similarly we haven’t won the Irish Cup for 27 years, now we have two good opportunities.
“This is a younger group who haven’t been across the line before. We have a good advantage in the league, but if Garvey win and should they win their game in hand, it could bring them to within a point of us. Instonians are still in there, too. We have to be focused, but I think if we apply ourselves, I don’t see why we can’t get across the line.”