Academy Boys’ into McCullough Cup Final

This season’s McCullough cup saw a new format with two tiers to the competition. The EMTEK sponsored Banbridge Academy 1st XI side started their Tier A campaign with a dominant home performance over Bangor Grammar. A confident display from start to finish saw them come away with a 10-0 win. The team then travelled to Campbell College whose counter attacking style challenged the Academy, who had to come back twice from being a goal down. The game finishing with a 4-2 win. Cookstown High travelled to Havelock Park next. The Academy were able to build a more positive passing style in this fixture and thanks to some clinical finishing won 5-0. The team found an away fixture at RBAI particularly challenging as their physicality and direct play put the Academy on the back foot from the start. The Banbridge boys couldn’t get ahead at any point in the game and had to settle for a late consolation goal, losing 3-1. Travelling to Sullivan, the team were eager to regain some confidence after this loss and they produced a very controlled display, getting back to a focus on possession hockey resulting in a 2-0 victory. Recently crowned All Ireland Champions Wallace High were the next opponents for the Academy. They knew this would be a tough fixture and this ensured they were disciplined in their play, helping the team to deliver a strong performance, winning 3-1. The final fixture of the McCullough Cup group stages saw the Academy face Friends’ School. The Academy knew that a win would secure top spot in Tier A so were keen to deliver a convincing performance. A combination of excellent team and individual goals helped the Academy to a 7-1 win.


Banbridge Academy, Wallace and RBAI all finished level on points after the group stage. Goal difference was used to decide placings, with Banbridge Academy finish in 1st place, setting them against Friends’ School, who finished 4th, in the semi-final. As expected, the semi-final saw a more determined Friends’ team who were disciplined in defence and hit fast on the counter. A strong start by the Academy and some good forward play ensured a 3-1 win. Wallace beat RBAI in the other semi-final which sets a tough final for Banbridge who know Wallace will be a strong and disciplined outfit. Head Coach Simon Jess will be hopeful that his squad full of Ulster and Irish U18 and U21 players will have enough experience and determination to bring the McCullough Cup back to the Lurgan Road school after losing out in last season’s final.


Squad: Denver Golbey, James McCoy, Matthew Stevenson (c), Aaron Baxter, Ben Walker, Harry Taylor, Ben Thompson, Lukas Moles, Matthew Spence, Josh Baird, Max Nicholson, Josh Osborne, Adam McKee, James Evans, Josh Brownlee, Adam Ewart, Joshua Cash, Charlie Taylor, Daniel McKee