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Long wait for Garvey-Bann Kirk Cup final rumbles on



Key man: Johnny McKee leads Banbridge attack against Garvey in Sunday's Kirk Cup semi-final

Key man: Johnny McKee leads Banbridge attack against Garvey in Sunday's Kirk Cup semi-final

�INPHO/Paul Walsh

Key man: Johnny McKee leads Banbridge attack against Garvey in Sunday's Kirk Cup semi-final

It has been 29 years since Ulster's Big Two, Lisnagarvey and Banbridge, met in a Kirk Cup final.. and that wait is going to continue.

Garvey booked their place in the last four yesterday evening when they beat Instonians 2-1 at Shaw's Bridge in their delayed pool game, but the draw for Sunday's semi-finals at the same venue has paired them with Bann (1.30pm), thus avoiding yet another cup final showdown between the derby rivals.

It was back in 1989 that the two Ulster giants last met in the Boxing Day showpiece, with the Blues coming out on top 2-0, and somehow they have avoided each other since.

Both were unable to compete in the competition for the past three years after a ruling that blocked the province's Irish Hockey League teams, but this season Ulster Hockey welcomed them back.

And it looks like all four IHL teams will be involved in Sunday's semi-finals, with Cookstown already through and almost certainly up against Annadale, providing Peter Caruth's lads avoid defeat against Belfast Harlequins in this evening's final Pool D game.

Garvey and Bann, though, won't be using their international players who are involved in Ireland's build-up to the World Cup finals which start in India in a fortnight's time.

That means Garvey will field without defender Jonathan Bell and striker Matthew Nelson, while Bann won't have Eugene Magee in their ranks, although Johnny McKee is there to lead the attack.

But it should still be a cracker, just as it was last month when Garvey won the IHL encounter at Hillsborough 5-4 with Timmy Cockram scoring a hat-trick.

Last night, Garvey went two up before half-time against Instonians through Troy Chambers and Daniel Nelson and should have increased their lead.

Stephen Kelso pulled one back late on when he deflected in an attempted clearance.

Cookstown await their opponents for the second semi-final scheduled for 3.30pm, but Annadale are strong favourites to qualify this evening, which means the Tyrone lads will be seeking revenge for their 4-3 IHL defeat earlier in the season.

Meanwhile, the IHL programme is again severely curtailed due to international commitments, with the only game being Dublin rivals Pembroke against YMCA, while Monkstown and Glenanne have brought forward their Irish Senior Cup third round tie.

The big game in the Ulster Premier League is at Shaw's Bridge where Instonians take on unbeaten Bangor, and there will also be considerable interest in the clash at Stormont where Mossley are aiming to keep their unbeaten start intact.

Champions Kilkeel have no game, while Newry's game against Antrim goes ahead on Friday evening as Antrim's Linden Cup pool game on Saturday is off.

Kirk Cup: Cooktown 4 (G Irwin, R Millar, S Smyth, M Kerr) North Down 2 (J Gilmore, G McKeown); Instonians 1 (S Kelso) Lisnagarvey 2 (T Chambers, D Nelson); Bangor 5 (R Cunningham 3, S Hamill 2) Queen's 3 (J Hermon 2, F Harkin).

Belfast Telegraph