Banbridge closing in on Premiership crown

Cookstown have been hit by an injury blow to Greg Allen (right)
Cookstown have been hit by an injury blow to Greg Allen (right)

The GOC Estate Agents Premiership title is Banbridge’s to lose, unless the wheels come off their title charge – but on their current form that seems unlikely.

This week they welcome Lisnagarvey to their Havelock Park base, and a win for Bann will put the title celebrations on ice – even though there are still a few games to go.

But Bann coach, Mark Tumilty, has a minor problem this weekend. With his complete squad back to full fitness for the first time this season, Tumilty has to decide what two players will miss out in the crunch game.

It’s a good problem to have, as Bann can really push on for that Irish dream of landing one if not two of the coveted trophies, and pick up the Ulster premiership title along the way.

However, Garvey will be smarting from their surprising exit from the Irish Senior Cup last weekend at the hands of Cork Church of Ireland.

Garvey coach, Eroll Lutton, will be looking for a top drawer performance from his side this week.

They have only one injury worry this week as Richard Arneill looks to be out.

Cookstown have been dealt a bitter blow, as their prolific goal-scorer, Greg Allen, looks to be out for the rest of the season.

Allen has a hip injury and even with treatment, his injury isn’t responding and he will be missed by the Reds.

This week Cookstown travel to Civil Service where they will be looking to secure all three points against a miss-firing Service side.

Second placed Instonians are without Irish international Paul Gleghorne and Stuart McNiece who have picked up injuries for their game against Newry. The game has been brought forward to a 1pm start at Shaw’s Bridge.

Newry have only one injury concern, Neil McKinight may miss the game, and even at near full strength they may not get any change out of an Inst side looking to secure all three points.

Annadale were disappointed at not securing all three points against Inst last week, as Inst snatched a point right at the death.

This week Dale welcome a full strength Kilkeel side who are sliding down the table, as results have not been going their way recently. Bottom of the table Mossley have a must win game against Belfast Harlequins.

Mark Moreland has been drafted in for the Friday night game

In Senior one Raphoe brought South Antrim’s run of seven straight wins to a halt last Saturday when they defeated South 2-1 in their own back garden.

It was the medicine that Raphoe needed, especially after losing an epic Linden Cup Final against Portadown on New Year’s Day. And with a home tie against struggling Antrim, Raphoe will be expected to chalk up the second win of 2015.

The result opens up the title race, as Portadown’s Stevie Johnston helped himself to a brace to the Ports crushing 6-1 win over Campbellians. The Ports are not expected to have it just as easy on Saturday as North Down also got 2015 off to a flyer as they edged out Portrush 4-3 last week.

Campbellians will be disappointed with their start to the New Year, as they had finished 2014 full off high expectations, but this week, with home advantage, the Belmont based side should see off PSNI and collect all three points.

Bangor and Queen’s had great results last Saturday against PSNI and Antrim respectively. Bangor welcome new Irish indoor champions Queens, and as share of the spils could be on the cards.

Drew Campbell will be hoping that his South Antrim side can bounce straight back from last week’s defeat with win against Portrush at the North Coast.