Banbridge Academy’s influence over their local club’s season could well be a significant one.
After just two games of the EY Hockey league season, Banbridge Hockey Club Head Coach Mark Tumilty has already hailed the performances of Academy joint-captain Kyle Marshall, as well as Johnny McKee and Sam Farson, who have both come through the school in the last couple of years.
Tumilty’s first team panel is young, and during pre-season the coach had challenged his up-and-coming players to prove their worth at the highest level in Irish hockey.
They’ve already begun to answer that call.
“Kyle Marshall was excellent and Sam (Farson) was brilliant all weekend as well,” he said.
“Sam goes under the radar a lot of the time but I’ve been very pleased with him. He has worked very hard at his game.”
Farson is one of the Bann forwards who are looking to make up for the loss of talisman Stevie Dowds, who is now playing his hockey with Oxted in the second tier of English hockey.
“Johnny (McKee) was excellent up front this weekend and Fraser Mills did very well too,” continued Tumilty, impressed with his side’s attacking play during a weekend in which they netted six goals. “He set up a goal on Sunday.
“I was pleased with our corners too. We scored three and didn’t get very many over the course of the weekend.”
Matthew Bell blasted from home two set-pieces, one from the rebound, for Bann during Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Three Rock Rovers.
Those helped turn the game on its head after Bann had been trailing 1-0 at half-time. Jamie Wright also bagged a brace to seal the win.
“We didn’t play well enough in the first half,” said Tumilty.
“We got it fixed at half-time. It was a good result because I think Three Rock will be there or thereabouts this season.
Bann then dropped two points at Glenanne on Sunday. Johnny McKee and Eugene Magee had found the net and Bann were 2-1 up but a goal in the dying stages denied Tumilty’s side.
“They are two costly points at this stage of the season,” said the boss. “We’re disappointed with the way it finished because we did enough to win the three points. In the end, we probably weren’t clinical enough.”
That was one of two gripes Tumilty had after the opening weekend.
“The group is moving in the right direction but we have to be more ruthless and our discipline has to be better as well,” he said.
“We picked up three yellows against Three Rock. We played with nine men at one stage and that could easily have undone all of our good work.”