HOCKEY: Banbridge adapt in bid to reel in Garvey

Banbridge Hockey Club are hoping a change in tactic can lead them to EY Hockey League glory this season.

Matthew Bell, Banbridge. Pic by Rowland White/PressEye
Matthew Bell, Banbridge. Pic by Rowland White/PressEye

Mark Tumilty’s side begin their campaign with a double header this weekend. They host Three Rock Rovers on Saturday (pass-back 2.45) before travelling south to take on Glenanne on Sunday (pass-back 3pm).

It’s a baptism of fire for the squad, who are desperately keen to overturn the 18 point gap between themselves and champions Garvey last season.

“I think we can do it,” said Matthew Bell. “Mikey Watt was one of their best players so it’s a boost for us that he has gone. I think it will be a lot closer this season.”

In order to try and come out on top this time round, Bell says there has been a new style of training during pre-season.

“There’s been a real change in atmosphere,” he said. “Mark Tumilty has adopted a different approach in getting players to lead things. That’s been good because it promotes leaders in the group and that’s what we’ve been missing. With Stephen Dowds gone now, we really do need people to step up.

“He was our main point of attack for years so we have to find someone to fill that gap.”

“We’re a very young group this year with a few school players and another few who have just left school but if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.”

Bann, of course, have the European Hockey League at Havelock Park to look forward to and they’ve had to make sure it doesn’t distract from their league campaign.

“The main goal is to win the league,” said Bell. “It’s the test of consistency and is the hardest one to win. The EHL will be great and, as players, we were focusing on that but Mark (Tumilty) has brought us down to earth and made us see that it is just a bonus for what we have achieved. The league is what we have to focus on.”