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Banbridge a Burney six-hit

By Graham Hamilton

Banbridge Academy 5 Cookstown High 4: Banbridge Academy made it six Burney Cup final wins in the past seven years when they beat arch rivals Cookstown High 5-4 in a thrilling final at Lisnagarvey.

The Academy have certainly dominated the Schools’ Cup since 2005 but even they will admit that they were mighty relieved to hear the final hooter this time.

Cookstown, who had beaten them 4-3 in the McCullough Cup final a month earlier, had been trailing 4-1 yesterday but man of the match Ian Sloan sparked a second half revival and the Tyrone lads were unlucky not to have forced extra time at least.

Bann went into the decider without captain Hugh McShane who had hamstring problems, and it was left to Josh Moffatt to lead the attack ... but he too succumbed to a hamstring in the second half and joined the walking wounded at Havelock Park.

The Academy made a breathtaking start, with Moffatt slamming home after just two minutes and although Sloan converted the first of his hat-trick of penalty corners in the fourth minute, the Co Down side were 4-1 up and seemingly home and dry five minutes from the interval.

Their second came from Owen Magee, almost identical to the first; their third from a Philip Doyle penalty corner and the fourth from Ben Cosgrove.

But Cookstown teams don’t lie down easily, and Ryan Johnston gave them fresh hope when he pulled one back in 33 minutes.

Bann were content to hold on to what they had in the second half, and ended up paying dearly when Sloan began to run the show.

He converted penalty corners in the 55th and 58th minutes to complete his treble —just like he did in the McCullough decider — and suddenly the game was taking on a different perspective.

But then the Academy won a penalty corner and Doyle switched it to Niall Kelly who swept it home to restore his team’s lead.

However, with Moffatt now off injured, it was soon backs to the wall stuff for the Academy and when Cookstown won another penalty corner it took some exceptional work from ’keeper Andrew Mooney and Matthew Bell to keep the ball from crossing the line.

“We just about deserved it,” admitted Bann’s stand-in captain Ciaran Kelly, after collecting the trophy from the Ulster Hockey Union’s Alan Morris. “We so badly wanted to hold on to the trophy after losing the McCullough Cup, and for our injured captain Hugh McShane without whom we wouldn’t have reached the final.”

Cookstown captain Sloan said: “We have tasted victory and now defeat, and we know what we would prefer. And with most of us back next year, the Burney Cup will be one of our main targets.”

BANBRIDGE ACADEMY: A Mooney, R Smyrl, M Duggan, P Doyle, N Kelly, C Kelly, M Bell, P Brown, O Magee, J Moffatt, B Cosgrove. Subs: M Anderson, M Knox, C Dillon-Burns, R Woods, A Dickson

COOKSTOWN HIGH: J Kirkpatrick, R Johnton, A McWhirter, C Crawford, R Millar, M Collins, I Sloan, P Morrow, M Johnston, D Crooks, T Johnston. Subs: J Cooper, P Johnston, P Watt, I Johnston R Donaldson

Umpires: T Lorimer, C Beattie

l In three of the other school cup finals played this week, there were wins for Banbridge Academy in the Ferris Cup (U14s) against Wallace High 1-0 and in the Bannister Bowl (U 13s) by 4-3 against Sullivan Upper, while Campbell College and Cookstown High shared the Richardson Cup (Under 15s) after the final finished 2-2.

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