Rivals Garvey and Bann seek centenary Cup glory
Ulster Hockey celebrates the centenary of the Anderson Cup this evening when arch rivals Banbridge and Lisnagarvey meet in the final at Havelock Park (7.45pm).
Irish internationals Eugene Magee, Matthew Nelson and Jonathan Bell are expected to take their places for this special occasion which brings down the curtain on the domestic season.
Nelson and Bell were unable to take part in Garvey's 4-0 semi-final success over Instonians on Saturday as they were training with the Irish squad at the Hillsborough venue ahead of their World Series tournament in France next month.
But both confirmed they would be available for tonight's decider against their old rivals despite a hectic weekend, as will Magee for Bann.
Saturday's semi-final saw the Irish Hockey League champions facing the Ulster Premier League champions, but with both fielding understrength teams for a variety of reasons, it turned out to be a bit of a damp squib.
Garvey were in control, with striker Daniel Nelson scoring twice, whereas Inst were unable to test 'keeper James Milliken.
Nelson got the first after seven minutes and Wallace High schoolboy Jonny Lynch flicked the second over the 'keeper.
Two more schoolboys, Wallace's Troy Chambers and Friends' Oliver Kidd, came close for Garvey, but Nelson's second secured the win and Andy Edgar made sure with a fourth goal 10 minutes from time.
Garvey's last Anderson Cup final success was in 2007-08 when Mark Tumilty was their coach - the Blues beat Banbridge on the silver goal from John Gray.
This time Tumilty is on the Bann bench, and he's hoping to end his nine-year reign at Havelock Park with a win, having announced he would be stepping down at the season's conclusion.
Meanwhile, Ulster Juniors missed out on inter-provincial glory when they were pipped on goal difference by hosts Munster.
Ulster had beaten Connacht 10-0 on Saturday, with Brandon Anderson grabbing a hat-trick and Adam Monahan a double, and then drew 2-2 with Munster.
But the Cork men beat Connacht 12-0 yesterday, meaning Ulster needed to beat Leinster by three clear goals to take the title on goal difference, but could only produce a 2-1 success.
Finally, the domestic and national season may just about be over, but the international programme gets under way on Friday when Ireland men play the first of two games against the USA at Pembroke's Serpentine Avenue ground on Friday (7pm), with the second on Sunday.
This begins the build-up for the first phase for Tokyo Olympic qualification, at the World Series tournament in France.
The Green Machine will complete their preparations with two games against France on June 4 and June 6 at Lisnagarvey.
Anderson Cup semi-final (Hillsborough): Lisnagarvey 4 (D Nelson 2, J Lynch, A Edgar) Instonians 0
Junior Inter-provincials (Cork Harlequins): Yesterday: Leinster 2 (A McLoughlin, D Nuzum) Connacht 2 (D Hurley 2); Munster 12 (J von Maydell 4, R Gash 3, D Egner 2, C Wallace, D Sheehan, M Lane) Connacht 1 (D Curley); Ulster 2 (W Booker, S McQueen) Leinster 1 (J Elliott)
Saturday: Ulster 10 (B Anderson 3, A Monahan 2, A Louden, S Chisholm, S McQueen, M Sullivan, J Taylor) Connacht 0; Munster 2 (R Gash, D Egner) Leinster 1 (S Ronan); Ulster 2 (A Monahan, S Chisholm) Munster 2 (D Egner, R Gash)