Burney Cup final finishes off World League extravaganza
There's an extra treat for hockey fans attending the World League 2 series at Stormont today...if they stay on after Ireland's quarter-final against Poland they'll be able to watch the schoolboy Burney Cup final.
The Irish men need to beat Poland (4.45pm) to keep alive their chances of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, and it's a tough test for a squad which managed to top their pool but are struggling to put games to bed.
However, the attack of Eugene Magee, Johnny McKee and Matthew Nelson in particular are beginning to gel and there is optimism that they can reach Saturday's semi-finals.
And immediately after this afternoon's game, Sullivan Upper bid to land the Burney Cup for only the second time in the competition's 97-year history when they take on Wallace High.
The Burney decider is a hard one to call, with Wallace having already landed the trophy in two of the last three seasons, and four in total, whereas Sullivan have taken strides forward recently under the guidance of Lisnagarvey striker Andy Williamson.
This will be the first time the Burney has been played under floodlights and Wallace coach Gareth Kidd believes it will add atmosphere to the occasion.
But he also appreciates that each team know a reasonable bit about each other through club connections, so it's going to be a close decider at Stormont.
"Sullivan coach Andy Williamson plays for Garvey so he knows all about some of our players, including Scott McCabe and Andrew O'Hare," he said.
"But I'm also involved with the Annadale club, and Sullivan players like Fergus Gibson, Matthew Crookshanks and Tom Robson play for the Dale, so I know all about them!"
The Burney competition is proving a route to international hockey. Players like Sean Murray and Matthew Nelson were among the Wallace teams that were winners in 2014 and 2015, and both are now part of the Ireland men's squad featuring in the World League 2 series.
Today's World League programme begains at 10am when France take on Ukraine, and that is followed by Wales against Italy (12.15pm), Austria v Scotland (2.30pm) and finally that Irish game against Poland (4.45pm), with the Burney final scheduled for a 7pm start.
WALLACE HIGH: James Ritchie, James McAuley, Zach Benson, Patrick Hunter, Jordan Taggart, Andrew O'Hare, Josh Snoddy, Scott McCabe, William Carey, Jacob Hermon, Callum Patterson, Adam Clarke, Jonny Lynch, Ben Nelson, Aaron Scott, Craig Getty, Andrew Smith
SULLIVAN UPPER: Tom McCord, Stephen Hodgson, Paddy Crookshanks, Matthew Willis, Tom Robson, Stewart McCaw, Callum Carson, Matthew Crookshanks, Fergus Gibson, Chris Mitchell, Harry Morris, Ryan Wolsely, Fergus Kerr, Euan Patterson, Daniel Grivin, Matthew Morris, Max McCone