Bann clinch double and Dale back in the top tier
Banbridge may have completed the all-Ireland league and cup double over the weekend but the Havelock Park side are cutting short their festivities as they turn their attention to the possibility of an historic treble.
And they weren't the only club to have cause to celebrate, as Annadale won the Provincial play-offs to regain their place in the Irish Hockey League for next season, while Cookstown remain in with a chance of joining them.
But first that Bann success which saw them crush Railway Union 6-1 on Saturday to pip Three Rock Rovers on goal difference for the IHL title and earn a place in Europe again next season, as well as adding to the Irish Senior Cup won last month.
And although coach Mark Tumilty and his players thoroughly enjoyed their celebrations, they return to training tomorrow night to prepare for the Irish Trophy Championship play-offs at Three Rock this weekend.
Bann face Monkstown in one semi-final on Saturday and Lisnagarvey take on Three Rock in the other, with the winners meeting in Sunday's decider.
Tumilty's side had a better goal difference by six going into Saturday's final round of fixtures but when Three Rock started to run in the goals with ease against already relegated Instonians, they knew they needed to win comfortably too.
Fraser Mills gave them the lead in the first quarter but by then Three Rock were already three up against Inst.
Mills deflected in their second from a Peter Brown tomahawk and Matthew Bell's penalty stroke made it three by half-time but word filtered through that Three Rock were now six ahead.
The third quarter saw Railway pull one back but Bell put away another stroke to make it 4-1 - only to hear that Three Rock were now eight ahead.
But further goals from Ross Beattie and skipper Eugene Magee completed Bann's 6-1 win and Three Rock's 9-1 success fell three goals short.
"We'll enjoy this success but then it's back to training on Tuesday and Thursday to prepare for the play-offs," said Tumilty.
"Regardless of what happens next weekend, this has been a tremendous season for the club.
"We would love to finish on a high, but we know it won't be easy. We beat Monkstown twice in the league, so they'll be out to turn that around in the semi-final, and if we do get through, Garvey or Three Rock would be equally difficult in the decider."
Garvey, despite two goals from Timmy Cockram, lost 4-3 at home to Monkstown but finished third to get into the play-offs.
Meanwhile, Annadale ensured a swift return to the IHL after one season away by winning the Provincial play-offs.
Player/coach Peter Caruth inspired his young side to a 5-0 semi-final win over Bandon on Saturday and then a 3-1 win over Ulster rivals Cookstown in yesterday's decider.
The Tyrone men though get a second bite at the cherry on Sunday with a promotion/relegation play-off against the IHL second bottom team UCD.
EY IHL: Banbridge 6 (F Mills 2, M Bell 2, R Beattie, E Magee) Railway 1 (K Springett); Three Rock 9 (L Madeley 3, K Mullins 2, M Darling, R Canning, J Hosking, C Empey); Lisnagarvey 3 (T Cockram 2, A Williamson) Monkstown 4 (D Carson 2, M Romoli, G Cole); Pembroke 4 (J Ryan 2, D Quinn 2) UCD 2 (A Keane, J Duncan); Glenanne 1 (E O'Malley) Cork C of I 0
Provincial play-off semi-finals: Annadale 5 (C Getty, M Crookshanks, A McAllister, P Caruth, B Wallace) Bandon 0; Corinthian 0 Cookstown 1 (M Crooks). Final: Annadale 3 (F Gibson, C Getty, O Brown) Cookstown 1 (R Millar)
Senior One: Bangor 1 Queen's 2
Anderson Cup: Portadown 4 (M Beattie, R Scott, J Curran, S Kirkland) South Antrim 3 (J Brown 2, P Maguire)