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Jack Rowe treble blasts Banbridge to glory over Wesley

Banbridge Academy 3-2 Wesley College

By Graham Hamilton

The Subway All-Ireland Schoolboys Trophy is back in Ulster after a four year break - and Banbridge Academy can thank Jake Rowe for making sure it happened.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and Rowe certainly stole the show in yesterday's decider at Shaw's Bridge, scoring a superb hat-trick against Dublin school Wesley College, with his third goal coming in the final minute to secure a 3-2 win.

This was the Co Down school's fifth success in the competition, their last wins coming back in 2010 and 2011, and since then the trophy has been in Dublin with St Andrew's College three in a row winners.

But five games in three days didn't seem to bother Bann this time as they took the glory.

Bann had won their pool over Wednesday and Thursday to reach yesterday morning's semi-finals, and goals from Kyle Marshall and Charlie Norris booked their place in the afternoon final after a 2-0 success over Bandon Grammar who had shocked Sullivan Upper in the group stages.

The Academy thought it might have been holders St Andrew's in the final but Wesley upset them in the semis, taking the tie after a shoot-out.

It looked bad for Bann in the decider when they went a goal down to Gavin Gibney after just three minutes when he sent the ball into the roof of the net.

But they gathered themselves and with Rowe lethal from set-pieces, they were back in the frame after 19 minutes.

Rowe then put them ahead after 39 minutes with his second penalty corner conversion and that seemed to be enough - until Wesley won a corner with just 85 seconds left and Sam Hyland slipped it past keeper Luke Roleston to level the game.

But the Academy didn't give up and surged upfield to win a corner of their own in the final minute and Rowe calmly put it away to start the celebrations.

Academy skipper Andrew Bennington was almost speechless immediately after the game.

"Unbelievable, like a dream come true," he enthused.

"This was beyond all our expectations."

Coach Mark Cordner had more to say: "I was delighted with the character the boys displayed.

"They showed maturity beyond their years, old heads on young shoulders if you like.

"With seven of this squad in Year 12 or under, it also augurs well for the future."

Cordner went on to praise the mentoring of former international coach John Clarke, the assistance of Simon Jess, the Banbridge club, the school, and former players for all their help in ensuring the trophy would come back to the town.

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