Bann secure Kirk Cup title

Banbridge's Stephen Dowds (left) scored a brace against Cookstown
Banbridge's Stephen Dowds (left) scored a brace against Cookstown

Banbridge lifted the GOC Estate Agents Kirk Cup for the 20th time after a 3-1 win over Cookstown in the final in front of a decent crowd who braved the foul weather to attend the show piece at Comber Road.

The result was seldom in doubt after Bann scored twice in quick succession after break after going into the interval 1-0 up.

Stephen Dowds increased his goal tally to 47 this season and he could have had a hat trick but had to settle for a brace.

Two of his goals came from open play and he had the chance to add to his account as Bann finished the game on top with a couple of unrewarded penalty corners.

So Bann kept their season’s unbeaten record in all competitions alive and they remain on course for a quadruple set of trophies..

They are hot favourites to regain the Ulster Premier League title and are still in with a good chance of winning the two all Ireland titles.

The Kirk Cup has a tradition of producing upsets but the trend was broken yesterday after Bann went into the game as firm favourites.

They had beaten Cookstown in the group stages and in both the Ulster League and the Irish Senior Cup so yesterday’s win made it their fourth over the Tyrone side.

It was precisely the same score line as the corresponding group game in the Kirk Cup and it turned out to be a comfortable win.

Cookstown had beaten Lisnagarvey in the semi finals with two late goals but on this occasion, falling behind in the first half and going 3-0 down early in the second put paid to their game plan.

Briefly they threatened a revival after pulling a goal back mid way through the second half but Bann were generally in control for most of the 70 minutes.

Fraser Mills got the opener after good work by Bruce McCandless in the 15th minute as he blasted the ball home from 10 yards out.

Dowds hit the crossbar from a set piece in the 27th minute and then Neil Gilmore went close to making it 2-0.

But Dowds got his reward when he added to his account in the 38th minute when he played a one-two with Peter Brown before flicking the ball into the net.

Six minutes later the prolific striker got his 47th of the season after another neat exchange of passes, this time with Jonny McKee.

Cookstown pulled a goal back in the 50th minute when Stuart Smyth took advantage of some slack Bann defending at a set piece but, by that stage, it was too little, too late.

Banbridge (from):Gareth Lennox; Timmy Watt; Kyle Marshall; Jonny McKee; Peter Brown; Matthew Bell; Bruce McCandless; Stephen Dowds; Jamie Wright; Eugene Magee (capt); Phillip Brown; Neil Gilmore; Fraser Mills; Drew Carlisle; Hugh McShane; Aaron Reid; Owen Magee.

Cookstown (from):Ian Hughes;Matthew Rollins; Raymond Miller; Ryan Millar; Godfrey Irwin; Paul Thompson; Ewan Butler; Simon Todd; Andrew Barbour; Mark Crooks; Jon Ames; Andrew McWhirter; Greg Allen (c); Andy Smyth; Stuart Smyth; Keith Black; Mark Rooney; Timmy Sloan; Josh Anderson.