Banbridge Hockey Club’s achievement at the weekend is up there with the greatest in their history.
That’s according to a beaming Head Coach Mark Tumilty, who was almost lost for words after the final whistle on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s an amazing feeling and something we should be extremely proud of as a group of players, as a club,” he said.
“This is the highest the club have got to. We won the Europeans in ‘85, we’ve won an Irish Cup, an Irish Hockey League but this to me is the highest we’ve got to as a club. We have to build on that.
“We had a belief coming into the weekend that if we gave ourselves a chance going into the last game, last half, last quarter that we could do something. We got to where we wanted to be and we took the chance.
“For an Irish side to compete against a team like that, who are flying in an Australian international, it’s fantastic. It’s a great day for the club and for Irish Hockey.”
Bann’s EuroHockey Club Champions Cup Division B victory at Castlewellan Road in 1985 is rightly remembered on the walls of the clubhouse, but in years to come Sunday’s achievement will no doubt go down in legend.
To finish top of a group that included Saint Germain HC and Royal Leopold, Tumilty says, was something that required maximum standards all round.
“We talked about 13, 14, 15 players needing to be at the top of their games,” he told the ‘LEADER.’
“You look at the performances of Matthew Bell, Eugene Magee, Johnny McKee, Owen Magee, I couldn’t have asked for any more. And Kyle Marshall - a schoolboy producing two goals at that level as a defender.
“Jake Rowe, the two Browns, Gareth Lennox in goal - I may have left somebody out there but I couldn’t have asked for anymore from the group.
“We have to enjoy moments like this, they don’t come along often in your career and we have to make the most of it.
“For the guys playing international hockey, when you come back to your club and achieve something with your friends, it always rates right up there.
“From a personal point of view, it’s right up there with the highlights of my career.”
For Tumilty, and the 2,000 strong crowd watching on the sidelines, it was hard to look as Leopold launched a late assault in Sunday’s decider.
“It was the longest four minutes that I can think of but it was worth it. It’s worth all the effort the club put in,” said the coach.
Now Bann have to compose themselves as they return to their bid for EY Hockey League glory when Monkstown visit Havelock on Sunday (pass-back 2pm). “They’ve set a standard there,” said Tumilty. “We go again next week against Monkstown.”
Bann currently sit third in the EY Hockey League table behind the only clubs to maintain a 100% record - Monkstown and Lisnagarvey.