Banbridge Academy Boys’ Hockey 1st XI win the Burney Cup
Ulster Schools’ John Minnis Estate Agents Burney Cup Final
Banbridge Academy 4 – 1 Friends’ School Lisburn
Banbridge Academy Senior Boys’ are the Ulster Schools’ Champions for the first time since 2016 after defeating Friends’ School 4-1 in the Burney Cup final last Thursday evening at the Playball Arena, Stormont.
In front of a raucous crowd, captain Charlie Rowe lifted high the most prestigious cup in schoolboy hockey as the Academy completed the provincial double following their McCullough Cup triumph in December.
The Academy’s route to the Burney Cup final had been relatively straight forward. After a bye in Round 1, they defeated Campbell College 8-2 in the quarter-final with Charlie Rowe, Matthew McKee and Ben Pollock all scoring two goals each. Unfortunately, during this match, influential forward Louis Rowe broke his collar bone to end his season early. The semi-final, against Cookstown High School, proved a more stern challenge for the Academy boys, but their dominance paid off as they won 4-2 after a stunning hat-trick from Matthew McKee.
And so on to the final at Stormont against a Friends’ side who the Academy had easily dispatched earlier in the season 8-0 and 5-0 in friendly matches. But a cup final was never going to be easy. The Academy lads got off to the perfect start when defender Matthew Stevenson scored his first goal of the season after converting a penalty corner drag low past the Friends’ goalkeeper. However, if the Banbridge side thought this match was going to be all one-way traffic they were quickly proved wrong. A poor defensive tackle led to a Friends’ penalty corner and after Connor Part in the Banbridge goal had made the initial save, Tom Archbold was on hand to tap in the equaliser.
The Academy regained the lead from another penalty corner in the second quarter. After the initial attempt was charged down, the ball broke kindly for Stevenson who slapped in his second goal. The Academy had complete control of possession as half-time approached but Scott Hosiack in the Friends’ goal was inspired as he kept out efforts from McKee and Tommy Dobson.
After the break, Friends’ became extremely defensive as they struggled to cope with the Banbridge onslaught. While Hosiack was keeping Friends’ in the game at one end, they had little threat in attack as Stevenson was magnificent as he marshalled the Academy backline. However, it took a piece of magic from Charlie Rowe to make the game safe for the Academy. He picked the ball up in midfield and drove with speed and skill cutting past four defenders, before sprinting along the by-line and lifting the ball over the advancing goalkeeper to score from a ridiculously tight angle. Minutes later the game was dead and buried when pressure from Matthew Spence saw the ball break to Cody Large in the circle, who lashed a superb reverse stick shot high into the net to the delight of the large support of parents and pupils.
There were emotional scenes at the end of the match as the players celebrated a magnificent achievement as they completed the provincial season in Ulster winning every game. After putting in a man of the match performance, captain Charlie Rowe said afterwards that “it was an amazing game with a great atmosphere. This win now gives us more motivation and confidence heading into the All-Ireland’s in Dublin. The only regret is that I couldn’t play alongside my brother Louis due to his injury.”
Head Coach Simon Jess will now ready his squad for the All-Ireland Championship in Dublin on Wednesday. They face Munster’s Middleton College at Three Rock Rovers Hockey Club at 11.00am, with the winners playing either Brandon Grammar or Kings’ Hospital School in the final at Wesley College at 4:30pm on the same day.
Banbridge Academy Boys’ Hockey Senior Squad:
Connor Part(GK), Charlie Rowe(C), Matthew Stevenson, Aaron Baxter, Seb Best, Luke Watt, Ben Walker, Tom Hamilton, Tommy Dobson, Matthew McKee, Matthew Spence, Louis Rowe, Ben Farson, Cody Large, Ben Pollock, James Evans, Josh Brownlee, Adam McKee, Denver Golbey(GK)