Sullivan Upper and Banbridge Academy ready for McCullough Cup battle

READY: David Wittington (right) of Sullivan Upper
READY: David Wittington (right) of Sullivan Upper

Sullivan Upper’s ace goalscorer Matthew McCord will be hoping to add to his tally of 35 goals this season when he steps out against Banbridge Academy in Wednesday’s 51st McCullough Cup Final.

McCord has been in sparkling form this season and he is determined to see Sullivan lift schoolboy hockey’s most prestigious trophy for the first time.

Sullivan have already defeated Bann and ironically it was the only game this season that McCord has not scored in.

However, that win was way back in the early group games and since then the Academy have been stringing a few wins together to reach the final.

The Holywood school have two sets of brothers lining out together.

Michael Robson will captain the side along with his younger brother Callum.

Both brother’s are already in the Irish set-up with Michael named in the Irish Under 18 squad and Callum in the Irish Under 16 panel.

It will be the last McCullough Cup match for the brothers, as Michael is in his final year at the school, whilst Callum is only in fourth year.

They will be joined by the McDonnell brothers – Simon and Paul – and like the Robsons, this will also be their last McCullough Cup game as Simon will also be heading on to University next season.

Goals have not been a problem for Sullivan this season, as they have notched up some 85 already.

But they have to also be aware of Bann’s prolific marksmen Johnny McKee and Rory Woods who have bagged 47 goals between them in 24 games.

McKee, the Ulster and Irish Under 16 player, celebrates his 16th birthday this weekend and he would love it to be a double birthday and Christmas present by scoring and lifting the cup for his school.

Woods, however, is doubtful for the final as he is recovering from a stomach bug which has also hit Camin McCloskey, David McCracken and Thomas Sturgeon.

Ben Knox is also doubtful as he has had his thumb in a cast for the last two weeks.

This will be Bann’s fourth consecutive final, having won one and lost the last two, so they will be out to put that right.

Five of the Bann squad will be playing in their last McCullough Cup final, as Thomas Sturgeon, Peter Bingham, John McCague, Camin McCluskey and Woods all leave the Academy this year.

So it looks to be one of the closest McCullough Cup finals to predict.

But it has the hallmarks of being a classic, as both sides have the players and talent to hopefully produce a Christmas cracker – and may the best school win.

The action gets under way at 1pm at Lisnagarvey Hockey Club.