Banbridge’s fox in the box is hoping he can sniff out one final goal this weekend.
Providing he can shake off a hamstring strain, Dane Ward will be pulling on the red shirt for potentially the final time as the club look to complete the clean sweep.
And he knows there would be no better way to bow out before his move to London than by ensuring Bann complete a perfect five-trophy haul by bringing the IHL back to Havelock.
“It is emotional having to leave the club,” he told the ‘LEADER.’ “I’ve known for a few weeks but now that it’s beginning to happen it’s really starting to sink in. To go out with a win to cap off the clean sweep would be great. If we get a good result on Sunday, I’m sure it will be bitter sweet.
“People were talking about this being the clean sweep earlier in the season and now we have a massive chance to do it.
“The format of the IHL probably suits our team. We will be going in with things slightly in our favour but it will be tough. We would love to finish with a clean sweep.
“The first time we won the IHL at Garvey in 2011 it was great.
“Dublin has been a tough place for us to go in recent years but it was great to go to the Senior Cup and get a couple of wins that got that monkey off our back. If we do get through the semi-final there on Saturday either Monkstown or Three Rock will be gunning for us.
“All three of the teams will all come out and attack us but we should have enough to get at them.”
Bann are hoping to become the first team to ever win all of the current crop of trophies on offer.
“Ever since the format changed and the new IHL came in nobody has done it,” said Dane.
“It would be nice to do it, but we won’t underestimate the challenge. We will take it one game at a time.”
Ward took to the field in potentially his last ever match at Havelock Park last week and finished off in style, netting twice in the 3-3 draw against Lisnagarvey.
“To go through undefeated was the main goal, but to get on the score-sheet was what I wanted so I’m glad I did it,” he said.
“It was great to finish the season undefeated but I was a bit disappointed that we couldn’t hold out for the win.
“It was obviously brilliant to score a couple of goals on what could be my last time on the pitch.
“At the start of the year we set out to win the title but to go and do it the way we did was something the lads enjoyed. There won’t be too many like that. That’s only our second league in the previous twenty-odd years so they’re hard to come by.”
Ward was also on target at UCD last weekend as Bann finally got their hands on the Irish Senior Cup, a win that filled the only gap in Dane’s impressive medal collection.
“I won everything at schoolboy level and then all the trophies you can win at first team level,” he said. “During my time with the second team we won the Irish Junior Cup in 2005. I have been fairly lucky to be involved in some very, very good teams in Banbridge.
“We’ve got to the Irish Cup semi-finals before but never actually achieved it so it was great to do it.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy against Cork. People did get a bit carried away after the semi-final but we knew it was going to be tough. I’m delighted for everyone at the club. To win it with all your mates at your home club is brilliant.”
And now that his spell at Bann comes to a close, Ward is hoping he’ll be able to link up with a few familiar faces in England:
“I’ll take the summer and get settled in and then I’ll look to play hockey over there somewhere.
“Geoff McCabe and Mikey Watt are playing at Surbiton so I’ll maybe look to go there.”
And wherever Dane goes, he’ll certainly be missed in Banbridge.