Wallace eye up a cup double after soaring past Banbridge
Banbridge Academy 1 Wallace High 4
Wallace High spoiled Banbridge Academy's chances of a boys and girls Schools' Cup double in yesterday's Burney Cup semi-final at Lisnagarvey - but now have a chance of landing a double themselves.
The Lisburn school already have the McCullough Cup tucked away in their trophy cabinet since December and now it's Sullivan Upper who stand in their way of adding the Burney when they meet the Holywood school in the final under the Stormont floodlights on Thursday, March 28 (7.30pm).
It was Sullivan that Wallace beat in a shoot-out in that McCullough decider and now the two giants meet again in what is the 99th year of the competition, now sponsored by John Minnis Estate Agents.
Everyone expected the Wallace and Banbridge semi-final to be a close affair, and so it was despite that flattering 4-1 scoreline.
In the end, the difference was Wallace converted three of their six penalty corner awards, whereas their goalkeeper Ben Cooke was man of the match, saving a couple of penalty corners and a penalty stroke from Bann talisman Edward Rowe.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we didn't foresee the 4-1 scoreline," said Wallace captain Jonny Lynch afterwards.
"Our goalkeeper Ben pulled off some fine saves to keep us in the game and allow us to do the damage at the other end from corners. Both Troy and I take set-pieces; we like to mix it about a little."
These were thoughts echoed by Wallace coach Gareth Kidd.
"We started the first half well and then faded but came back strongly in the second half," he said. "But we didn't expect the margin to be as big. Our keeper was great - Edward Rowe takes a strong penalty corner but yet Ben stood up to him three times in the second half and also saved a penalty stroke."
It took Wallace only five minutes to break the deadlock, with Troy Chambers - who, along with Lynch, features regularly with Lisnagarvey in the Irish Hockey League - converting the first penalty corner of the game.
Bann keeper Scott Dale blocked a second attempt from Chambers after the Wallace star played a neat one-two inside the circle from his team's third penalty corner.
But gradually Bann worked their way into the game and equalised 14 minutes from the break, also from a set-piece.
This time Rowe's reverse from a variation squirmed up from a deflection and Philip Campbell reacted first to bat the ball down from a height and just underneath the crossbar.
But Wallace hit back to take a 2-1 half-time lead when Lynch lashed home a penalty corner in the 33rd minute.
When Chambers converted another penalty corner nine minutes from the end to open up a gap, it was going to need a big push from Banbridge, but keeper Cooke stood up to the pressure with three good saves from penalty corners and then from Rowe's penalty stroke won by Lewis Bingham.
In the final minute, Bann were hit on the break and Thomas Cherry added Wallace's fourth to wrap things up and start the celebrations.
BANBRIDGE ACADEMY: Scott Dale, Ryan Simms, Harry Lockhart, Mark Cowan, Christopher Curry, Philip Campbell, Charlie Rowe, Mark Barlow, Lewis Bingham, Luke McConnell, Edward Rowe. Subs: Ross Stewart, Luke Watt, Lewis Groves, Cody Large, Matthew McClimonds, Louis Rowe
WALLACE HIGH: Ben Cooke, Peter Milligan, Max Taylor, Cameron Forrest, Zach Benson, Oliver Patterson, Troy Chambers, Jonny Lynch, Adam Clarke, Paddy Watson, Ben Clarke. Subs: Tim Curragh, Jonny Chambers, Sam Boyd, Thomas Cherry, Daniel McElhinney, David Furphy
Umpires: Allister Campbell, Neal Hermon