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Bann pitch perfect after 12-week delay

 

By Graham Hamilton

Banbridge are ready to launch their new £250,000 pitch after overcoming major difficulties when their contractors went into administration earlier in the year.

Havelock Park is now looking sublime, with the new astroturf laid on top of new shock-pads, and new goals and new dugouts installed.

And with just a few minor bits and pieces to be completed, hopes are high that it will see action by the start of pre-season training in early August.

It has been an anxious time for the club, who were originally to host the Irish Hockey Trophy finals in early May but had to give that up when it became clear that work would not be completed after the contractors ran into difficulties.

Club official Neal Madeley said: "We had to negotiate with the company who made the carpet and also the sub-contractors, and when the Department for Communities and the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council approved the grants, it was back on track.

"It's a great job and the place looks really good, and it's our legacy for the next 15 years at least.

"We plan to have an official opening on September 1."

Bann have added Kilkeel's Irish Under-21 star David Rae to their panel for next season, a fine capture after he helped the Mourne side to a trophy treble in Ulster last term.

Meanwhile, Wallace High schoolboy Troy Chambers bagged a hat-trick as Ireland Under-16 boys shocked old rivals England 4-3 in the Six Nations series in Cork yesterday.

His treble put the Irish lads 3-1 ahead while Evan Jennings was also on the mark.

They now face Spain today (3pm), while the Irish Under-18s take on Belgium in Santander (11am) in the Europeans and the Under-23s face GB in Antwerp in the Six Nations (12.30pm).

The Irish Under-23 women got their first win in three starts at the Six Nations tournament in Antwerp, where they defeated Canada 2-0.

After Tori Hastings had gone close, her Queen's team-mate Jessica McMaster broke the deadlock in the second quarter after good work by Ulster's Serena Barr along the baseline.

Hannah McLoughlin sealed the win near the end when she converted a penalty corner.

Next up for Dave Passmore's team is a potentially tougher game with Great Britain today (11pm), while the Under-18s continue their European Championship campaign against England in Santander (1.45pm) and the Under-16s take on Spain at the Six Nations in Cork (1pm).

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