Banbridge enjoy McCullough Cup success

TUMBLE: Sullivan's Michael Robson during yesterday's McCullough Cup final
TUMBLE: Sullivan's Michael Robson during yesterday's McCullough Cup final

Rory Woods erased two years of bitter disappointment for Banbridge Academy, as his two goals ensured that Bann lifted the McCullough Cup for the sixth time.

Bann had suffered the agony of losing their last two appearances in the final and they were out to ensure that it was not going to be a hat-trick of defeats.

Academy went into the final as underdogs, as Sullivan Upper looked the team on form and if it had not been for the heroics of Bann keeper Peter Bingham – the cup could well have been heading to Holywood instead.

And they could well be wondering why it isn’t, as they had two apparent goals ruled out in the first half and if they had been allowed, that may have changed the whole complexion of the game, especially as they had had the upper hand for the first 25 minutes.

As it was, the teams turned up for the second half still locked out but it was Bann who stepped up a gear, as they began to find some cohesion to their play.

As the minutes ticked down, Bann at last broke the deadlock and it was their joint leading scorer Woods, who edged his side into a 62nd minute lead, after great work from John McCague along the by-line.

All Bann had to do now was to contain Sullivan and the cup was theirs.

However, Sullivan had other ideas and with two minutes remaining, Michael Robson collected the ball just inside the Bann half, to send in a cross for Matthew McCord to drill home, notching up his 36th goal of the season and sent the game into extra time.

The rain had been unrelenting for the entire game and now both teams faced another 15 minutes of horrid conditions to decide the outcome.

With only minutes of the first period underway, it was Bann who edged back into the lead when Woods drilled a reverse stick shot home.

It was a sickening blow for the Holywood school and whenever David McCracken found space in the circle to thump the ball home, the cup was going down the A1 to Banbridge.

After the game Academy coach Steven Dawson said: “Bingham made great saves at very crucial times and definitely kept us in it in the first half. But both sides were unable to convert their chances.

“I thought we just edged it in the second half and over the balance of play, we deserved it but it was very close.

“I am delighted to come out on the right side of the scoreline but more so this year, as we had seven 5th years and four upper sixth players in our team, so it has been a rebuilding season for us.

“We were well beaten by Sullivan earlier in the cup, so it was good to turn that result around.

“It allowed us to see how we have progressed over the season.”

So any celebrations planned? “Yes we are heading to the Belmont Hotel, who have been sponsors of our team over the years, for a meal and now we can all look forward to having a great Christmas.”

Banbridge Academy: Peter Bingham; Justin Glass; Thomas Sturgeon; Aaron Reid; David Armstrong; Ben Knox; Rory Woods; Matthew Hurst; Timothy Watt; Johnny McKee; David McCracken; Clark Neville; John McCague; Matthew Warnock; Andrew Ferguson; Camin McCloskey. Coach Steven Dawson

Sullivan Upper: David Perry; Robin Watts; Paul McDonnell; Jamie Hardacre; Marc Price; Conor Roberts; Callum Robson; Simon McDonnell; Adam McAllister; Matthew McCord; Steven McQuillan; David Wittington; Andrew Nicholl; Michael Robson; Peter Gaston; Alexander Grey. Coach Jonny Quigley