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John Matchett aims to bowl over Sullivan Upper's rivals Friends in Burney Cup

By Graham Hamilton

Sullivan Upper have their sights firmly fixed on a schoolboy double - and they're hoping striker John Matchett can help them on their way this afternoon.

The Holywood school landed the McCullough Cup in December after Matchett struck three times to earn a 4-3 success over Wallace High and now the Burney Cup is their priority as they prepare to face Friends in the first of the double-header semi-finals being staged at Lisnagarvey (2pm).

Matchett has played a major part in Sullivan's success this season - but whether he continues his hockey career after school remains doubtful.

In fact, when I spoke to him after his hat-trick in the McCullough final, he admitted that cricket remains his first love, having already captained CIYMS at senior level.

But in the meantime he has been torturing hockey defences and is the man Friends will have to mark closely.

As well as that glorious treble in the McCullough decider, Matchett had earlier scored twice in the semi-final and last month netted twice more in the Burney quarter-final as Sullivan crushed Campbell College 5-1.

Hockey is certainly on the up at Sullivan - the girls won the Belfast Telegraph Senior Schools' Cup last year and were beaten finalists this year - and the boys are determined to make their mark too.

Friends, though, are a stiff test and have won the Burney more times than any other, although they must go back to 1978 for their last success.

The second semi (3.30pm) brings together Banbridge Academy and RBAI, two more schools with a proud tradition.

The Academy may be favourites but are aware that the Belfast school are on an upward trend again after a heady spell when they dominated the competition during the Nineties and early Noughties.

Jake Rowe, though, is a real matchwinner - he hit a hat-trick as the Academy won the All-Ireland final at Halloween.

The big IHL game this Saturday is at Lough Moss between Annadale and Banbridge. The Dale need a win to ease relegation fears and Bann need a win to stay in the hunt for the Irish Champions Trophy play-offs.

Cookstown also need points badly and can do themselves, and Annadale, a favour by beating Cork C of I at home to haul the Munster men firmly into the relegation zone, while Garvey can get one hand on the title if they beat Pembroke.

In the Ulster Premier League, Belfast Harlequins look like claiming the third provincial play-off place behind Instonians and Kilkeel when they take on South Antrim at Friends.

And in the Senior League Top Four series, leaders Queen's take on Bangor while Campbellians face Antrim.

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