Banbridge just fell short of winning their fifth trophy of the season when they lost 2-1 to Monkstown in the final of the Irish Hockey League in front of a bumper Dublin crowd yesterday.
Bann have gone the entire season unbeaten but it was just a bridge too far as Monkstown clinched their third IHL trophy on the trot.
Monkstown had the perfect start when after just four minutes Richard Sykes fired an inch perfect penalty corner into the top corner to give the holders the lead.
Five minutes later with Bann beginning to move the ball about Eugene Magee collected a cross from the right from Frazer Mills to flash the ball past the wrong side of the upright.
It was all Bann, as Monkstown seemed content to sit back and let the Bann midfield make all the play.
Six minutes into the second quarter Sykes nearly doubled Monkstown’s lead with a carbon copy goal, only this time the ball crashed off the cross bar.
Bann immediately burst from defence to win their third penalty corner but once again Davy Fitzgerald saved brilliantly.
After the restart, Bann burst into attack as they took the game to Monkstown.
And in the 44th minute the pressure paid off when the Monkstown defence failed to clear the ball which was eventually tucked home by Jamie Wright for the equaliser.
Four minutes later Fitzgerald had to dive to save a deflected shot from Dane Ward. Monkstown continued to use the aerial ball from defence to relieve the intense Bann pressure.
In the 61st minute Eugene Magee carved his way through the Monkstown defence only to see his effort blocked and with calls for a penalty stroke it fell on deaf ears.
But minutes later Ross Beattie unceremoniously upended Peter Caruth to give away a needless penalty corner and up stepped man of the match Sykes to score.
This time unexpectingly sending the ball along the floor and into the net.
Bann threw everything into attack and with 90 seconds remaining Johnny McKee won their fifth penalty corner.
But once again they failed to convert and it was Monkstown who played out the final seconds to retain their IHL for a third time.
After the game a dejected Bann captain Eugene Magee, said: “Unfortunately we didn’t get the result we wanted.
“Congratulations to Monkstown on winning their third title and we look forward to playing them in next season’s IHL and hopefully we will get the result we want.”
Mark Tumilty the Bann coach added, “The better team definitely didn’t win. I am immensely proud of this team and what they have achieved this season.
“They will go on to play in Europe next season and there is much more to come in the future.”