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Cracknell is aiming to make his mark after taking over the Banbridge reins

 

Banbridge men have appointed Gordon Cracknell as head coach to replace Mark Tumilty, who stepped down at the end of last season following a nine-year stint in charge. (stock photo)
Banbridge men have appointed Gordon Cracknell as head coach to replace Mark Tumilty, who stepped down at the end of last season following a nine-year stint in charge. (stock photo)

By John Flack

Banbridge men have appointed Gordon Cracknell as head coach to replace Mark Tumilty, who stepped down at the end of last season following a nine-year stint in charge.

Cracknell has moved from Ulster Premier League side Kilkeel, where he coached last season after spending eight years working in Australia with the Gosford City club and at representative level with Central Coast.

He had a first hand view of his new charges last season when Banbridge defeated his Mournemen in the Anderson Cup semi-final over two legs.

During his time Down Under, he played an instrumental role in facilitating moves for several Aussies to play in Ulster for Annadale in both the Ulster and all-Ireland leagues in recent seasons.

"I am delighted to be taking up this role with Banbridge and I believe that my coaching experiences over the past 18 years will help me to lead the men's first XI squad into a new exciting phase," Cracknell said.

"There is a lot of talent in the squad and management team and I look forward to being part of this group of players and staff.

"I would like to thank Kilkeel for the support in the time that I have been with them and wish them well for the seasons ahead."

Cracknell will shortly be meeting with his players and the remainder of his coaching team to set out his plans for the season ahead and will take up the role with immediate effect.

Bann will be hoping to at least replicate last season's achievements when they reached the EY IHL play-offs, losing at the semi-final stage, and lifting both the Anderson and Kirk Cups at domestic level.

Next season, Bann will be without Under-21 star Zach McClelland, who is taking a year out in Canada.

However, they will welcome back Owen Magee, who is back home after a spell playing his hockey in Belgium.

Meanwhile, Ireland's Under-16 and 18 girls were in friendly action against Scotland in Perthshire last night as they prepare for their respective Six Nations tournaments in Holland later this month.

The Under-18s opened with a 1-0 win courtesy of a second-half goal from Rachel Kelly.

Ireland's Under-16s completed a double success for the visitors after beating their Scottish counterparts 2-1.

Pegasus player Ella Armstrong broke the deadlock in the first half and, after the Scots equalised in the third quarter, Leah O'Shea grabbed a late winner.

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