Banbridge Academy completed the schools hockey double, when they added the Burney Cup to the McCullough Cup, defeating Campbell College 3-0 in yesterday’s final at Hillsborough.
But the scoreline somewhat flatters the red-hot favourites Bann, as Campbell pushed them all the way to the final whistle, and if they had just taken one or two of those chances, it could have been all so different.
Many pundits had predicted that the County Down school was going to bury their Belfast opponents in an avalanche of goals, but that never materialised, as Bann were simply not allowed to get into top gear.
The first half never really got the pulse racing, with much of the play contained between both 25’s. Campbell’s defence was rock solid with Charles McComb producing a captain’s performance, as he was in outstanding form.
In the 24th minute the first clear cut chance fell to Campbell. With Bann down to ten men, after Phillip Doyle was sin-binned for his second offence, Campbell swung into attack. James Cox put Andrew Williamson clear, but Andrew Mooney spotted the danger, and sprinted of his line to block the shot pushing the ball round the upright.
However, five minutes later Bann at last found away past the Campbell defence, and from their first penalty corner of the game, Stephen Dowds slotted the ball home with precision, to give them a hard-fought half time lead.
Three minutes after the turn, man of the match Owen Magee, was unlucky not to double Bann’s lead when he sliced into the Campbell circle to unleash a ferocious shot which flew over the cross bar.
It was then Campbell’s turn to hit a purple patch, as they went for the elusive equaliser, and in the 42nd minute John Lyness and Williamson split the Bann defence to see the latter shoot wide off the target.
And two minutes later Hector De Courcy-Wheeler stopped the ball brilliantly on the line from McCombe’s fourth penalty corner.
Then disaster struck Bann, when their Irish Under 18 international, Dowds pulled up injured with a ham-string injury, and looks likely to miss next week’s All-Ireland Schools championship in Dublin.
With Bann again down to ten-men after Philip Brown was sin-binned, Campbell still couldn’t make the extra man count, and in the 58th minute Hugh McShane forced his way along the Campbell by-line to slip the ball to Josh Moffett, who found himself plumb in front of an empty goal for a simple touch home for Bann’s second.
Campbell’s bubble had burst, and two minutes later when Bann were awarded a hotly disputed penalty stroke, after Owen Magee seemed to be up ended in the circle, up stepped Brown who dispatched the stroke into the net, to take the ‘Burney’ back down the A1 to Banbridge Academy.
After the game Academy captain, Dowds said:
“I don’t think the scoreline reflects on the game, Campbell pushed us and gave us a great game. I think our second half performance just won it for us.
“They really surprised us, as we had played them earlier on in the season, and it is obvious they have put a lot of work in since then, and they definitely have improved.
“But this is great achievement by all the players they put the work in, and winning the Burney Cup is great for the school, and a great way for me to bring the curtain down on my school playing career.”
Campbell’s captain, McComb knew his side had come close to causing an upset. He said:
“It was a very close final, and everyone in the team gave a very good account of themselves, and the players can be very proud. But congratulations to Banbridge they played very well, and hopefully Campbell College can move forward from this.”
Banbridge Academy (from) - Andrew Mooney (GK), Michael Anderson (GK), Daniel MacAuley, Phillip Brown (VC), Matthew Bell, Philip Doyle, Hector De Courcy-Wheeler, Michael Duggan, Hugh McShane, Ciaran Kelly, Niall Kelly, Ben Cosgrove, Joshua Moffett, Stephen Dowds (C), Owen Magee, Matthew Knox.
Coaches: Steven Dawson, Simon Jess, Aaron Appleton
Manager: Mark Cordner
Campbell College - Justin Hool (GK), Darren Rodgers (GK), Charles McCombe (C), Stephen Johnston, James Clark, Richard Johnston, Aaron Saunders, Aaron Robinson, Jordan Linter, Josh Mackay, John Lyness, Chris Ashenhurst, Mathew West, Andrew Williamson, James Cox, Jamie Ireland
Coaches:Ronnie Smyth and John Rea
Manager; Damian Styles
Umpires: Eamon McFerran and Colvin Beattie