Hockey: Bann woes mount ahead of big clash
Banbridge coaches Mark Tumilty and Errol Lutton are hoping the injury crisis that has struck their first-team squad will ease before Tuesday evening's crunch league clash against arch rivals Lisnagarvey.
Bann have managed to reach the Irish Hockey League semi-finals and the Irish Senior Cup semi-finals despite now having SEVEN regulars on the sidelines, and although their league title challenge has faded a little, they are still lying second behind Garvey ... which means the home clash against their rivals is vitally important.
Penalty corner expert Ross McCandless and Dane Ward have already missed a month's action and Dairmuid Reay's recent return proved premature. Then Stephen Dowds fractured his ankle in an accident at home and Hugh McShane pulled his hamsting.
If that wasn't bad enough, Josh Moffatt became the seventh casualty on Wednesday when he pulled a hamstring as Banbridge Academy won the Burney Cup.
Tumilty was still able to field a strong enough team to beat Civil Service 5-1 on Wednesday evening in the league and is hoping that his much changed line-up will come up trumps this afternoon against bottom team Bangor to keep the pressure on Garvey who have a tricky visit to Instonians.
There's a chance Bann's injury list might have eased a little by the time the Garvey game comes round on Tuesday.
But at the moment the priority is to have players ready for the Irish Senior Cup semi-finals in mid-April and then the Irish Hockey League semi-finals at the end of April as they chase national glory and a place in Europe.
O'NE 1918 Premier League: Instonians v Lisnagarvey, Shaw's Bridge, 1pm; Cookstown v North Down, Coolnafranky, 2.30pm; Civil Service v Kilkeel, Stormont, 2.30pm; Mossley v Annadale, The Glade, 2.30pm; Banbridge v Bangor, Havelock Park, 2.30pm
Senior One: Armagh v Antrim, Ardmore, 1pm; Ballynahinch v South Antrim, Donard Park, Newcastle, 1pm; Belfast Harlequins v Cliftonville, Deramore, 2.30pm
Irish Junior Cup semi-final: Annadale II v Banbridge II, Lough Moss LC, 1pm