Banbridge Academy just failed to make it three Irish Schools Hockey Championships on the trot, when they lost 5-3 to eventual winners St. Andrews, in Friday’s semi-final at Lisnagarvey.
In the history of the competition, only one school has ever managed to win a hat-trick of championships, and that was Newry High, when they dominated from 1982 – 1985.
Bann were Ulster’s only remaining representative in the final four, as the other seven teams all crashed out in the group stages, and hopes were high they were going to emulate Newry’s record.
However, after only four minutes on the clock, Bann trailed St Andrews by two goals after David Nolan and Lee Cole cracked in a goal each.
And when Cole grabbed his second and Ben Campbell made it 4-0, Bann faced a mammoth task to dig themselves out of this one.
Within minutes of the restart, two penalty corner strikes from Rory Woods threw the reigning champions a life line.
And when Clarke Neville scored to reduce the deficit to one goal, Bann were back in the hunt.
As the Academy pushed forward for the equaliser, St Andrews struck back through Nolan for his second, to ease the pressure off the Dublin school and take them through to the final.
Speaking after the game Banbridge Academy coach Steven Dawson said: “Whilst we are disappointed at losing, there are no complaints. St Andrews are a very good side.
“We were just not sharp enough in the first half, but we rallied in the second half and got it back to 4-3 we had them rocking at one stage.
“We are just sorry that we couldn’t make it three wins in a row, but we have a very young side, as eight of our sixteen players are fifth formers. So I think the experience they have gained this week will be very important.”