We had a chat with the players at Banbridge Hockey Club, who have a massive opportunity to end almost 30 years of hurt this weekend.
Mark Tumilty’s side are off to UCD to play in the Irish Senior Cup finals, aiming to secure a 10th Cup success and bring the trophy back to the Lurgan Road for the first time since 1986.
And as they take on six-time winners Pembroke Wanderers in the semi-final on Saturday, the boss knows this is a chance they can’t afford to let slip by.
“If we produce our best hockey, we have a real opportunity,” he said.
“We have an opportunity but we probably have had that over the last few seasons and fallen a bit short.
“We’re in a better position now with a better squad though. This is the best squad that I’ve worked with and people around the club are saying they have that bit extra.
“When we sat down at the start of the season, this is the one that we really wanted to focus on.
“It’s so long since we’ve won it and we’ve had a hard run to the final. The win over Three Rock was a massive one for us.”
Bann haven’t been in the final since 1994 and Tumilty says reaching it this time around is no formality.
“People will put us down as favourites but going down to Dublin is never easy and Pembroke have a good record in the Irish Cup,” he told the LEADER.
“They have a good record in the semi-finals and they’ll be well organised under David Passmore. They have Paddy Conlon helping out and playing too so they’ve a very good side and this will be far from an easy one for us.
“Railway Union and Cork C of I both have the potential to be very difficult opponents in the final as well.
“The key element is that there isn’t a belief that it’s just a matter of turning up. It’s far from that. I’ve lost enough Irish Cup semi-finals to know it’s not easy.”
Bann have, of course, already got the Anderson Cup and Kirk Cup under their belts and are still dreaming of a clean sweep with the Ulster Premier League all but won and the IHL finals still to come.
And with such key games coming up, the squad have their eyes on the prize.
“They’re focused and there’s a togetherness that is really pleasing,” said Tumilty. “Some guys aren’t maybe getting as much pitch-time as they would like but on Saturday the whole bench was up celebrating each one of our goals.
“The guys look sharp and fresh, which is pleasing. All the guys are coming into form. Stevie Dowds is strong, Owen Magee is on his game and Dane Ward is back and scoring. We’re a much stronger team than we were before Christmas.
“I couldn’t ask for the squad to be in any better shape going into the weekend.
“There’s a great buzz around the club. We just need to take each game as it comes now and get it over the line.”