Banbridge Academny beat Sullivan in Burney Cup final

HAPPY: The Banbridge Academy team celebrate
HAPPY: The Banbridge Academy team celebrate

Matthew Hurst had cause for celebration, not only had he helped Banbridge Academy win the Burney Cup four the fourth time on the trot but what a way to celebrate his 16th birthday.

And it was the second school hockey medal to land in the Hurst home, as only a couple of weeks ago twin sister, Alex, won the schoolgirls cup with Lurgan College.

In a pulsating game which flowed from end to end it was a game that could have gone either way. Much the same way that the McCullough Cup had turned out, with Sullivan dominating the first half but rueing the missed chances, it was the same again, as indeed was the scoreline.

Rory Woods once again proved the difference as Banbridge took their chances better and left with the silverware.

In the first half Sullivan were definitely the first team to settle and earned a couple of early penalty corners but the Banbridge defence stood strong and cleared the danger.

Chances were few and far between but Sullivan dominated territory and were clearly on top. However as so often is the case when you don’t take your chances the opposition will pounce and that’s exactly what Banbridge did.

Ben Cosgrove collected the ball and with his first contribution to the game, left his marker behind and drilled a great ball across the Sullivan circle to a jubilant Woods who had timed his run perfectly and finished smartly to give Banbridge the lead just before the interval.

The next goal was crucial and it came about three minutes into the half as Woods drifted past a few players and finished clinically past David Perry in the Sullivan goal.

Sullivan came back strongly to win another penalty corner but it was again well dealt with. With 23 minutes still to go Woods completed his hat-trick when he finished smartly with a reverse stick shot.

At this stage it didn’t look good for Sullivan but they dug deep and proceeded to dominate the rest of the game with David Whittington, Callum Robson and Connor Roberts in the Sullivan midfield taking the battle to the Banbridge team.

With 15 minutes to go Roberts played a great ball which was deflected into his own net by a Banbridge defender. And one minute later Sullivan won a penalty corner and after a slick switch Matthew McCord was left with a huge opportunity to make it 3-2 but Bingham made a fine save and Sturgeon cleared the danger.

Sullivan pressed hard for the remainder of the match but the Banbridge defence led by Sturgeon and well supported by Bingham held out and gave Banbridge another Burney Cup win.

Speaking after the game Banbridge Academy coach, Steven Dawson said: “I was delighted with the performance as it was full of things we had worked on in training.

“Rory Woods thoroughly deserved the man of the match award but all the players produced top performances.

“I felt we controlled good parts of the game and as a coach it is very rewarding to see young players make such remarkable progress over the course of the season. We are delighted,” he added.

Banbridge Academy: Peter Bingham GK, Thomas Sturgeon Capt., Tim Watt, Sam Farson, Ben Knox, Rory Woods, Matthew Hurst, Johnny McKee V.C, David McCracken, Clarke Neville, John McCague, Aaron Reid, Matthew Warnock, Andrew Ferguson, Camin McCluskey, Ben Cosgrove

Sullivan Upper: David Perry G.K ,Marc Price, Andrew Nicholl, Simon McDonnell, Paul McDonnell, David Whittington, Connor Roberts V.C, Callum Robson, Steven McQuillan, Matthew McCord V.C,Michael Robson Capt,Peter Gaston, Jamie Hardacre, John Matchett, Adam McAllister, Alexander Grey.