Being Ulster and Irish champions just wasn’t enough for Banbridge Academy.
Not content with their double, they took off to the annual JIPHT Invitational Tournament in the Netherlands and smashed their way to the title with a 9-1 win in the final.
It all began at the HDM hockey club for their first fixture against Dutch side Pijnacker.
Bann showed some top class ability and the game ended 6-1 to Bann. The goals went to Jake Rowe (2), Mark Barlow (2), Kyle Marshall and Peter McKnight.
The second game of the day was played in some great weather against South African side Clifton College. Banbridge, sponsored by Sinton’s At The Bridge, went out with searing pace which the South Africans could not handle. With some fluid plays and destructive finishing Bann won the game 13-0.
The goals went to Kyle Marshall (3), Nathan Liggett (3), Joel Reid (2), Mark Barlow (2), Sam Green, Jake Rowe and Peter McKnight.
The Saturday brought more sun and a tough game against well drilled German side Mannheim. The game was being played on a rather awful pitch but it was another obstacle which Bann had to overcome.
Bann started in the ascendency but were met with a strong defence. After losing forward Peter McKnight to injury Bann conceded a goal to put the Germans 1-0 up. The score line remained this way until two minutes to go when Joel Reid scored a goal to equalise.
Typical of the season Banbridge have had this year, there was another goal to come. Jake Rowe scored in the last second to win the game and put Bann top of the group. They now faced the Scottish U17 team in the quarter final.
In some glorious sunshine, the Bann side were given a challenge by the national side. After resisting plenty of Bann pressure though, Scotland finally conceded a well taken goal from Sam Green to make it 1-0.
Just before the break Nathan Liggett scored a second making it 2-0 at the break. In the second half, Scotland replied with a superb goal off the post but Banbridge refused to be caught out and continued to play fast flowing hockey.
Joel Reid scored and Nathan Liggett added another to his tally. Jake Rowe finished the scoring with a classic drag-flick into the side netting to leave the final score at 5-1.
Bann rose early on Sunday morning for a 9:30 start against Belgian side Oree. The Belgians had a few players with some seriously quick hands which caused the Bann defence a bit of trouble but nothing Captain Andrew Bennington and James Anderson couldn’t handle.
The Bann attack were lethal in front of goal and Mark Barlow opened the scoring early on. Jake Rowe added another through a short corner.
Sam Green added another goal to make it 3-0 at the break. Jake Rowe scored two more to get his hat-trick and Mark Barlow finished the scoring off to put Bann in the final.
The decider was played on the main pitch in front of a large crowd in the Dutch sun against bitter rivals Mannheim, who were looking to avenge their defeat earlier in the week.
The game started tight with the Germans again proving hard to break down. The passing of Dylan Cowan and Mark Adair in the full-back positions was exceptional and got most moves underway.
Rowe opened the scoring with two trademark drag-flicks and Mark Barlow soon rounded the keeper for 3-0.
Mannheim fought back and scored with a well worked short corner but just before the end of the half, Kyle Marshall scored a thunderous reverse hit to make it 4-1 at the break.
Rowe and Marshall both added another to their tallies to make it 6-1 and after providing plenty of assists throughout the tournament midfielder Charlie Norris finally got a goal of his own.
A sweet deflection from Norris made it 7-1. 12 year old Edward Rowe (yes, Jake’s brother) made it eight with a lethal penalty stroke.
The final goal was scored by Sam Green for 9-1.
The tour bodes well for the future as there was plenty of talent shown by the youth in the team and was a great send off for the departing guys in Upper Sixth.
The Academy’s thanks go to Richard Cowan, ex pupil and now PE teacher in Cullybackey HS who umpired on behalf of Irish Hockey at the tournament. Also to staff members John Clarke, Colin Walker, Mark Cordner, Bill Malcomson and to the parents for such amazing dedicated support throughout the season.
The boys now look forward to parading their accolades at BHC reception on April 16th as the club take on Glenanne.