Banbridge and Lisnagarvey bring down the curtain on the domestic hockey season on Monday night when the two big rivals go head to head in the Anderson Cup final at Havelock Park (7.45pm).
Bann have had a few weeks off since reaching the decider with a comfortable win over Cookstown while Garvey defeated Instonians 4-0 at Comber Road in the second semi-final on Saturday.
Both teams should be at near full strength for the showpiece after Garvey were without internationals Johnny Bell and Matthew Nelson at the weekend due to an Ireland squad session.
The Hillsborough side were comfortable winners over Inst, with Matthew’s brother Daniel opening the scoring after seven minutes before Jonny Lynch doubled the lead. Nelson’s second of the day left the Ulster Premier League champions with too much to do and Andy Edgar sealed the win with goal number four with 10 minutes remaining.
Meanwhile, Ulster junior men and women both had to settle for second place at the inter-provincials in Cork where hosts Munster secured a double success. The men came closer, runners up only on goal difference following a 2-1 victory over Leinster in their final game on Sunday when they needed to win by three.
Ulster had beaten Connacht 10-0 on Saturday, with Brandon Anderson grabbing a hat-trick and then drew 2-2 with Munster. However, Ulster manager Andrew Coates was proud of his players, who gave of their all and were a tad unlucky not to have repeated their 2017 triumph.
He said: “Despite our bus breaking down on the way down on Friday, the tournament got off to a great start with that 10-0 demolition of Connacht in our first game, everyone was excellent but special mention to Brandon for his hat-trick.”
“We had to play back-to-back against the hosts Munster and despite being 2-0 down with only five minutes to go, we drew, scoring our equaliser in the last 10 seconds. This was our best game as the determination to get something from the game despite fatigue, and a penalty stroke we thought was a bit dubious awarded against us which resulted in their first goal.”
“On Sunday when Munster played Connacht they beat them 12-1 scoring at the final hooter and this was Connacht’s back-to-back game as well. In the last game we knew we had to beat Leinster by three clear goals, but we did look a bit nervous before growing into the game. Confidence was knocked when we conceded right on half-time, in what was a scrappy first half, with the partisan Munster home crowd cheering on Leinster.”
“The second half was a different story and we totally dominated, scoring twice, and we also felt we should have had a couple of penalty strokes. The effort, commitment and professionalism of the squad should be mentioned as, to a man, everyone was exceptional and the entire management team could not have been prouder of how the group gelled on and off the pitch, led by Jordan Barr and Stuart McQueen.”
“We tied with Munster on points, but they retained their title on goal difference as they had 16-4 to our 14-3. We conceded the least goals all tournament and even the Munster coach conceded we had been the best team. Despite not wanting to single out players, special mention should go to Callum Kilpatrick who showed what a talented hockey player he is in all three games.”
Chelsey Whan got the winner for the women in a 1-0 victory over Leinster. on Sunday which clinched davy Menaul’s team the runners up spot. The Dromore player scrambled the ball home in the 50th minute of a closely contested encounter.
Ulster coach Davy Menaul said: “The girls did us proud and excelled themselves in the face of a new style of hockey and I believe had the tournament been a couple of weeks further down the line, we would have won it.”
“It was down to very small margins and we just needed that extra one or two per cent. There were no easy teams in the competition and Connacht, who sometimes struggle in other events, were strong with quite a few very good players.”
Ulster had crashed out of contention for a repeat of their 2017 junior interprovincial triumph after a disappointing opening day. Menaul’s girls went down 1-0 to their Munster hosts after having to settle for a 2-2 draw against Connacht earlier in the day. Ulster needed to beat Munster to keep their title hopes alive but were undone by Hilary O’Connor’s 15th minute penalty corner strike.
Menaul said: “We dominated possession but unfortunately lacked a bit of patience and composure in the final third.”
In Ulster’s first game, Lisnagarvey striker Kerry McIlwaine hit both of the goals as Connacht twice came from behind to salvage an unexpected point. McIlwaine broke the deadlock early in the second half but the western province levelled straight from the restart. The former Queen’s player made it 2-1 from the penalty spot but, once again, Connacht equalised within 60 seconds of conceding.