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Burney Cup semi-finals: Friends aiming for double delight with another win over Lisburn rivals Wallace


Wallace and Friends last met in the McCullough Cup final in December.

Wallace and Friends last met in the McCullough Cup final in December.

Wallace and Friends last met in the McCullough Cup final in December.

Friends delivered a statement of intent at the weekend when they crushed Banbridge Academy 7-0 to reach the John Minnis Estate Agents Burney Cup semi-finals in which they will tackle holders Wallace High today at Shaw's Bridge (3pm).

It will be a repeat of the McCullough Cup final in which Friends defeated their Lisburn rivals 3-0 in December, while Royal Belfast Academical Institution face Sullivan Upper in today's other last four game at the same venue (1pm).

Ambitious Friends will therefore be aiming to complete a schoolboy hockey double this season, as they bid to emulate Wallace's superb achievement of 12 months ago.

"It was a good performance on Saturday against a good Banbridge team, so that will give the boys confidence," said Friends' coach Craig Cunningham.

"But we will be guarding against complacency as we know Wallace are a quality side with top players all over the pitch."

Wallace coach Gareth Kidd, whose team beat Regent House 5-2 in the quarter-finals, expects another epic battle against Friends' but says his players are also in good form

"We played really well against Regent and, performance wise, are playing our best hockey of the season," said an optimistic Kidd.

"As holders, we obviously won't give up the Burney Cup lightly, but we know that we will have to be at our very best on the day.

"Since the final went to being played under floodlights, we have played in two of them, and it really is an occasion that every schoolboy player wants to be a part of, so that's a big incentive too."

Last year's beaten finalists Sullivan will start slight favourites as they seek to overcome RBAI, who are making a return to this stage of the competition after a long absence.

However, Inst are determined to cause an upset and get back on the big stage once again, after they edged out Royal & Prior by the narrow scoreline of 1-0 in the quarter-finals.

"We are all very excited about being back in the semi-finals, although Sullivan are a very good and well organised side, but we are relishing the opportunity to play against them," said RBAI coach Jeremy McAfee.

Belfast Telegraph