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Kirk Cup final: Win would be bliss for Banbridge's newly-wed Fraser Mills

Happy days: Fraser Mills hopes a final win puts the icing on the wedding cake
Happy days: Fraser Mills hopes a final win puts the icing on the wedding cake

By Graham Hamilton

Newly married Fraser Mills is hoping to complete a memorable festive holiday period by helping Banbridge land the Kirk Cup against Annadale at Lisnagarvey this afternoon (3.15pm).

The striker only tied the knot with his new bride Stephanie on Friday, spent their first Christmas Day together yesterday... and now he's made himself available for Ulster Hockey's showpiece final today.

That's good news for Bann coach Mark Tumilty, who has already lost striker Eugene Magee with a broken hand, and he can ill afford to lose another potential matchwinner for his team's first Kirk final appearance in five years.

"Yes, Fraser only got married a few days ago, but he's available for the final which is a bonus," said Tumilty.

"And Peter Brown is going to make it too after being sidelined for the past two months with a hamstring problem, so we'll have good experienced players alongside perhaps half the squad which has never sampled a final before.

"It is great to be back in the final as I feel it is very important for younger players to get experience of playing in cup deciders in front of larger crowds.

"It is a tournament that I have always enjoyed playing and coaching in, and this year has been no different. It will be an excellent experience for our younger players and do them a power of good to achieve a victory."

Mills will be featuring against his former club Annadale, although most of their squad now has changed dramatically since his time there.

Player/coach Peter Caruth has considerable young talent at his disposal and has been nurturing them in the Irish Hockey League, where they are currently holding down a comfortable mid-table position.

He is delighted to have reached another Kirk final but is aware of the threat that the current IHL joint leaders pose this afternoon.

"We know Banbridge have featured in Europe, and also IHL finals for the last number of seasons.

"But their ill discipline costs them at times and we need to capitalise on this if and when it happens.

"They know Ryan Burgess is scoring for fun for us at the moment, and they will have to do something good to prevent him from scoring."

The Dale are going for a third Kirk final win in the last six seasons, their last defeat in the decider ironically coming against Bann back in 2005.

ANNADALE: Jonny Moore, Peter Bland, Ryan Burgess, Chris Morrow, Tom Robson, Ben Wallace, Adam McAllister, Ryan Getty, Callum Robson, Andrew O'Hare, Cameron Ruttle, Peter Corrie, Peter Caruth, Rory Capper, Patrick Rose, David Tremlett, Paddy Crookshanks, Patrick Jack, Jonny Caren, David Smyth, Matty McRoberts

BANBRIDGE: Luke Roleston, Luke Witherow, Alex Tinney, Johnny McKee, Peter Brown, Zach McClelland, Bruce McCandless, Josh Moffet, Jamie Wright, Mark Cowan, Sam Farson, Fraser Mills, Luke McConnell, Dylan Cowan, Drew Carlisle, David Rae, James Hutchison, Mark Barlow, Scott Dale, Peter Bingham

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