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Bann in the Wright frame of mind for a big weekend

By Graham Hamilton

Banbridge are having a memorable season to date... and it could get a whole lot better by the end of this weekend.

Mark Tumilty's lads face a crucial Irish Hockey League clash in Dublin against Monkstown on Saturday morning (11.30am) and then the following afternoon they take on Corinthian at Havelock Park (2pm) with an Irish Senior Cup final place at stake.

If they can come through those two games unscathed, then Bann could be sitting top of the IHL, through to the EuroHockey League knock-out stages, and into the Irish Senior Cup decider.

It's the sort of scenario you dream about, but Tumilty won't take anything for granted, as he knows fine well just how difficult the games this weekend will be.

"The boys have worked hard this season and are playing very well, but there is no silverware yet," reasoned Tumilty.

"But if we can continue our fine form over both games, we would be sitting pretty before the four-week break in the IHL.

"Saturday's 6-0 win at Instonians pleased me, not only the scoreline but the way we played.

"Johnny McKee is exceptional at the moment while Jamie Wright has really taken to his move into midfield.

"Switching Eugene Magee upfront has also worked very well.

"And the defence is looking sound, especially with Drew Carlisle back in the frame following his honeymoon."

Monkstown, though, are a dangerous side, but Instonians found some chinks in their armour in the cup quarter-final last week, which augurs well.

Sunday's semi-final sees Bann take on Corinthian, the only non-IHL team left in the competition.

They have Irish international striker Jonny Bruton as their player/coach and he has guided them to the top of the Leinster provincial league, with just one loss from 10 games.

Back to Saturday's IHL programme and Lisnagarvey have a tricky trip to Three Rock Rovers who have climbed into the top four.

The Blues will recall that the Grange Road side held them to a 1-1 draw at Hillsborough earlier in the season and a glance at their other results shows that they have already beaten leaders Banbridge (2-1), third placed Cork C of I (2-1) and fifth placed Monkstown (3-0).

Meanwhile, Instonians have a great chance of chalking up their first league win when UCD come to Shaw's Bridge.

Steven Redpath's lads can take heart after their gutsy display against Monkstown in the cup last Sunday, holding them to a 4-4 draw before finally losing on a penalty stroke shoot-out.

The top places in the Ulster Premier League are unlikely to change over the weekend as Cookstown, Kilkeel and Annadale are all expected to win.

The Tyrone lads host Mossley, the Mournemen go to bottom club Raphoe, and the Dale take on Newry at Lough Moss.

North Down are not involved in the league but square up to Ashton in Comber to try make it three Ulster clubs in the Irish Hockey Trophy semi-finals.

Belfast Telegraph

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