Scott McCandless: “Our kids are excellent.”

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Andrew Morrison


Banbridge are hoping to win their first EYHL title since 2017 as they take on Monkstown at Havelock Park.

The County Down side currently sit top of the league, four points ahead of Lisnagarvey, needing a win to seal the championship.

Head Coach Scott McCandless has been in charge for two seasons and believes it would be a massive moment for his players.

“Winning any league is great for any group of players. The last time we won was back in 2017 and there are only a few players left of that group in the current squad.

It would be an excellent achievement as it would be a first title for a lot of the lads and especially given our age profile within the squad.”

Banbridge are known for their successful academy with the area producing many Ireland internationals down the years. The 42-year-old has tapped into this for his own squad, building a side with plenty of youth and now believes he has the perfect mix of experience.

“One thing I will say is our kids are excellent. We have various Irish under 18 players, so they have a lot of talent which has been nurtured by school.

We have a nice blend between older and younger players this season.

We didn’t set targets this year because of our inexperience and the demographic of the squad.

The kids have learnt very quickly off the older guys.”

The league leaders will be hoping for a similar result to the last time they faced Monkstown back in November. That day a last gasp goal sealed a 2-1 victory.

However, McCandless is expecting another tight run game.

“We won last minute down there, and it is always a tough game when you play Monkstown.

 They are a good side with some brilliant older players. We are expecting a tough game and it’s not a given that we turn up and get the three points.”

Elsewhere there is only one men’s Ulster Premiership game this weekend as Queen’s University host Newry Olympic at the Malone Playing fields.

The students will be hoping to go level on points with top of the league Bangor, who they will still have played two games less than. In contrast their visitors will be hoping for a boost to their survival hopes and bring the gap at the bottom to just goal difference.

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