Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Hockey: Bruce’s bonus boost for Banbridge

The absence of set-piece expert Ross McCandless may have cost Banbridge when they lost by a single goal to both Lisnagarvey and Annadale in the Ulster Premier League over the past week.

On Saturday Mark Tumilty's team came bouncing back to inflict the heaviest defeat that all-Ireland champions Pembroke Wanderers have suffered in the past few years, to haul themselves right back into the frame in the Irish Hockey League.

McCandless’ younger brother Bruce, who assumed the responsibility of taking penalty strokes in his brother’s absence, converted two inside the opening 25 minutes in a 6-2 success.

Stephen Dowds and Joss Moffatt also scored twice each in the success and although it's an accepted fact that Pembroke aren't anywhere near as strong as they were last year, you can only beat what is in front of you ... and on this occasion the all-Ireland champions took a real beating!

By winning by more than three goals, Bann picked up a crucial bonus point to close the gap on Pool B leaders Corinhtian, Monkstown and Pembroke with just next week's round of fixtures to go.

Bann knew they needed a bonus point win to keep them in the hunt, but also needed Monkstown and Corinthian not to get one.

And that's exactly what happened — Monkstown could only beat bottom team Cork Harlequins 5-4, while Dublin YMCA were pegged back to 4-2 in the late stages when John Corry and Mark Irwin scored late goals for Instonians.

Now a two-goal win over YMCA next Saturday at Havelock Park will guarantee Bann a place in the semi-finals, possibly with Lisnagarvey from Pool A, although the Lisburn team now have to fit in their trip to Cookstown which was postponed due to the weekend snow in Tyrone.

That game could go ahead on Thursday evening, with the crunch game between Garvey and Corinthian at Hillsborough on Saturday.

They'll probably have to beat Corinthian and draw at least with Cookstown to leapfrog the two Dublin teams, especially after Glenanne’s 5-2 bonus point win at Annadale.

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