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Lennox will miss Bann's treble bid as son takes ill

 

By Graham Hamilton

Banbridge goalkeeper Gareth Lennox has ruled himself out of this weekend's EY Irish Championship Trophy finals - even though he'll miss out on his club's attempt to complete an historic all-Ireland trophy treble.

But the towering keeper has the blessing of coach Mark Tumilty and his fellow players, as Lennox has more important issues on his mind - the health of his three-year-old son James.

The toddler was diagnosed with a form of E.coli in recent weeks and has been undergoing dialysis in hospital and, although he is showing the fighting spirit of his dad, there's still a few worrying weeks ahead.

"Gareth has been a tremendous last line of defence as we won the Irish Senior Cup and Irish Hockey League double, and we'll miss him not only for his goalkeeping skills but also the way in which he drives players on," said Tumilty.

"It's a pity he is missing the business end of the season but his son is the priority and we accept that and hope that young James will make a full recovery.

"We're fortunate we have Luke Roleston as an able stand-in, as he showed in the EuroHockey League over Easter and our final league game when Gareth was also unavailable."

Bann take on Monkstown in the first semi-final (3pm) and Lisnagarvey face Three Rock Rovers in the second (5pm), both on Saturday at Three Rock's Grange Road ground. The winners of each will then square up in the final on Sunday (5pm).

Bann have already faced Monkstown three times this season and, with two wins and a draw from these, they go in as favourites, although the Dubliners will be out to exact revenge.

They have the players to cause damage with international duo David Carson - with over 20 goals already - and Kyle Good up front and David Fitzgerald a solid last line of defence.

But Bann have been the season's outstanding team and with Matthew Bell and schoolboy Kyle Marshall at the heart of the defence, the Brown brothers Philip and Peter a driving force in midfield and the Magee brothers Eugene and Owen a handful up front along with Dane Ward and Fraser Mills, there is every chance they can make the final to keep alive their dream.

Jamie Wright may miss out through injury but back in are Hugh McShane and Jake Rowe.

Garvey have tough opposition in hosts Three Rock and Errol Lutton could be without several internationals as Jonathan Bell, Paul Gleghorne and Sean Murray are all carrying injuries.

Meanwhile, Cookstown will take on UCD in the IHL promotion/relegation play-off for the second successive season - and this time they mean business.

Last year the Tyrone lads lost to the students and were relegated to the Ulster Premier League.

"We were disappointed in our performance in the provincial play-off final against Annadale," said Cookstown captain Greg Allen. "But we will gather ourselves and hopefully get the job done this time."

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