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Bann put euphoria behind them as IHL restarts

By Graham Hamilton

Banbridge coach Mark Tumilty is demanding his players come down out of the clouds in time for Sunday's big EY Irish Hockey League clash against Dublin giants Monkstown at Havelock Park (2pm).

The euphoria surrounding Bann's qualification for the EuroHockey League knock-out stages, by virtue of winning their pool against all the odds last weekend, has catapulted the players onto the big stage, and deservedly so.

But, as Tumilty emphasised after their success, it's important to celebrate the achievement providing they come back down to earth in time to take on Monkstown, whose target is to claim the IHL crown this season.

Tumilty's feelings have been echoed by their international duo Matthew Bell and Eugene Magee, and their hope is that the fantastic Bann support last weekend can be repeated to inspire them against the Dubliners.

"The fans were superb at the Euros," said Bell, whose performances at the centre of the defence and at set pieces over the weekend were immense.

"In fact the show the club put on was unbelievable. The Dutch lads said it was one of the best they've ever been at, and that's testament to our club and all the volunteers who helped pull it off.

"But it's back to the bread and butter and we need a result against Monkstown to keep us in the frame for Euro qualification next season."

More than 5,000 fans poured through the Havelock Park gates last weekend and Bann would be happy with a fraction of that to support them this weekend against their Dublin opposition.

It won't be easy against a team that boasts more than five internationals in their ranks.

But if Bann can produce the same determination and skill that saw them conquer St. Germain and hold the fancied Royal Leopold last weekend then that home support could just sway matters their way.

Saturday's programme sees Lisnagarvey take on Three Rock at their Hillsborough base and Erroll Lutton's lads should make it four wins in a row.

And Instonians head to Dublin with a reasonable chance of chalking up their first win when they take on fellow promoted side UCD.

Ulster Premier League leaders Kilkeel host Mossley as they chase a third successive win, while high-scoring Cookstown head off to Newry and Annadale take on Campbellians at Lough Moss in the other two top games.

The Senior One programme finally gets under way now that the Linden Cup pool phase is completed.

Men's Senior Fixtures

SATURDAY: EY Irish Hockey League: Lisnagarvey v Three Rock, (Hillsborough, 3pm); UCD v Instonians (Belfield, 2.50pm); Railway Union v Cork C of I (2.15pm); Glenanne v Pembroke (2.30pm)

Ulster Premier League: Annadale v Campbellians (Lough Moss, 2.30pm); Kilkeel v Mossley (Kilkeel HS, 2.30pm); Newry Olympic v Cookstown (Newry, 2.30pm); North Down v Portadown (Comber LC, 2.30pm)

Senior One: Portrush v Antrim (Ballycastle, 1pm); Armagh v Ballynahinch (Ardmore, 1pm); Cliftonville v Queen's (CIYMS, 2.30pm); Bangor v South Antrim (Aurora, 2.30pm)

SUNDAY: IHL: Banbridge v Monkstown (Havelock Park, 2pm)

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