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Allister happy to build on family's proud Bann legacy

 

By Graham Hamilton

Banbridge's Matthew Allister has already won one medal in what is his first season with the club - and now he's hoping to help them land the Irish Hockey League title and the end-of-season championship play-offs within the next fortnight.

The young winger made the summer move to Havelock Park having come through Annadale's ranks, and has shown great improvement after a nervous start.

In fact, it is turning into a whirlwind end to his first campaign - his first medal came when Bann won the Irish Senior Cup at the end of last month, and then over Easter he scored his first goal in the EuroHockey League against Racing Club de France in Eindhoven.

The name Allister, of course, is synonymous with the club - Matthew's grandfather Aubrey, father Colin and uncle Nigel all won honours with Bann and now he is following in their footsteps.

His attention turns back to the Irish Hockey League and their final game in the league programme this Saturday, at home to Railway Union.

If Bann win, and there's no reason to suggest they won't, they are assured of the title unless main rivals Three Rock Rovers better their score against Instonians by six goals.

There's a major doubt over Jamie Wright following their European exertions, but the signs are that Bann can do the business. And then it will be on to the Irish Championship play-offs the following weekend when a win or runners-up place would seal a European slot.

"It has been a big few weeks and everything has been coming thick and fast, with the Irish Senior Cup, the EuroHockey League and now the conclusion of the IHL followed by the play-offs," said Matthew.

"It was great to get my first Irish Senior Cup medal and also to get my first goal in Europe, but there's more work to do over the next two weekends."

Lisnagarvey also complete their programme this weekend, against Monkstown, and regardless of the result, both are already through to the play-offs.

Garvey's chief worry is Jonathan Bell, who pulled his hamstring in the EuroHockey League over Easter, and the concern is whether their influential defender will make it for the play-offs.

Meanwhile, Cookstown and Annadale feature in the play-off finals weekend, along with Corinthian and Bandon, with the winners earning a place in the IHL next season and the runners-up taking on the current ninth-place IHL finisher for the final slot.

The Tyrone lads seem to have the harder semi-final on Saturday against Corinthian, whereas the Dale take on Bandon.

Cookstown's Keith Black said: "Corinthian are an excellent team who bring physicality to the game and we have to stand up to that challenge.

"They have a good short corner routine, reached the Irish Senior Cup semi-finals and have a big game player in Jonny Bruton, who provides pace and fire-power upfront.

"We have been training hard and competition for places in the squad is fierce as everyone is fit, well rested and raring to go."

Dale player/coach Peter Caruth has also got his young squad fired up as both Ulster clubs bid to reach Sunday's play-offs final.

MEN’S SENIOR FIXTURES

SATURDAY: EY Irish Hockey League: Banbridge v Railway Union (Havelock Park, 3pm); Lisnagarvey v Monkstown (Hillsborough, 3pm); Three Rock Rovers v Instonians (Grange Road, 3pm); Glenanne v Cork C of I (Tallaght, 3pm); Pembroke Wanderers v UCD (Serpentine Avenue, 3pm).

EY Irish Hockey League Provincial Play-offs (Grange Road): Semi-finals: Corinthian v Cookstown (10.30am); Annadale v Bandon (12.30am).

Senior One: Bangor v Queen’s (Aurora, 2.30pm).

Anderson Cup: Portadown v South Antrim (Edenvilla, 1pm).

SUNDAY: EY Irish Hockey League Provincial Play-offs Final: Corinthian or Cookstown v Annadale or Bandon (Grange Road, 3pm).

Belfast Telegraph

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