Luke Roleston the star as Banbridge Academy beat Sullivan Upper to land Burney Cup
Banbridge acad 1-1 Sullivan Upper (Banbridge won 4-1 on penalties)
Banbridge Academy goalkeeper Luke Roleston is already being hailed as a possible international star of the future and he showed the reason why with a man of the match performance that helped his school land the Sinton's At The Bridge Burney Cup at Lisnagarvey yesterday afternoon.
Roleston pulled off a series of saves under intense pressure from Sullivan Upper in the second-half and after the teams had finished level at 1-1 in normal time.
And he further underlined his ability after extra-time by saving the first two penalty strokes to ensure the trophy was heading to the Lurgan Road for the 14th time in the competition's history to sit alongside the All-Ireland title won back in October.
It was agony for Sullivan who probably deserved to win overall but just couldn't find a way past the Irish Under-18 keeper when they were in the ascendency.
Academy hero Roleston said: "We started well and it was great when Jake Rowe put us ahead, but Sullivan came back at us and I just had to do what I could to help the team.
"Regarding the penalty strokes, it's anybody's game then, but I made sure I kept my focus."
He sure did as he stopped the first two Sullivan strokes, taken by two of their star performers Matthew Crookshanks and John Matchett, the first with his foot and the second a fine save with his stick.
Adam McAllister finally put one past him but with Jake Rowe, Kyle Marshall, Peter McKnight and Dylan Cowan all converting, the Burney was heading down the A1 again.
Academy coach Mark Cordner was honest in his assessment of the final, which proved a fine spectacle in front of a four-figure crowd, and admitted Sullivan had the chances to win outright.
"They were well set up, well coached and their 3D skills caused problems," said Cordner.
"Their goal was excellent, but we weathered the storm and we had been practising strokes."
Most of Sullivan's attacks came from the driving force of Crookshanks in the middle or the wing wizardry of McAllister, while Harry Morris was a top performer in defence.
Rowe converted Banbridge's second penalty corner to put them ahead but Sullivan sprung to life and Ross Hancock, McAllister and Crookshanks all tested Roleston before Hancock's cross was deftly turned in by Matchett.
Sullivan dictated the second-half and Roleston saved from Ben Cree and Matchett twice before Paul McDonnell shot wide.
And so the 97th Burney final went to strokes - and Roleston's two saves underlined what everyone recognised as a man of the match performance.
BANBRIDGE ACADEMY: Luke Roleston, Andrew Bennington, Mark Barlow, Dylan Cowan, Charlie Norris, Kyle Marshall, Peter McKnight, Nathan Liggett, Jake Rowe, James Anderson, Mark Adair. Subs: Scott Dale, Sam Green, Callum Gibson, Joel Reid, Phillip Campbell, Ryan Simms.
SULLIVAN UPPER: Max McCone, Paul McDonnell, Robin Watts, Tom Robson, Adam McAllister, Callum Carson, Ben Cree, John Matchett, Matthew Crookshanks, Fergus Gibson, Harry Morris.
Subs: Matthew Morris, Ryan Wolsley, Euan Patterson, Ross Hancock, Tom McCord, Stephen Hodgson.