Northern Ireland estate agent John Minnis has signed a three-year deal to sponsor Ulster schoolboy hockey’s Burney Cup in a deal which will lead into the centenary of the competition in 2020.
And the first round draw has produced one obvious stand-out tie with Lisburn school Wallace High hosting Banbridge Academy. It’s a repeat of the 2013 and 2014 finals, both of which were won by Wallace, on penalties after a 3-3 draw and 3-2 respectively.
However, prior to that, Banbridge won the famous trophy four years in a row between 2010 and 2013, having taken the honours on 14 occasions in all.
Friends’, meanwhile, who were beaten by Burney holders Sullivan in the McCullough Cup final last month, will be away to Antrim Grammar in the first round.
The draw had produced another intriguing tie with Sullivan opening their defence of the trophy against Bangor Grammar in a north Down derby at Comber Leisure Centre.
Sullivan defeated Wallace High 3-2 in last year’s final while Bangor’s only triumph in the showpiece came back in 1983 when they were 3-0 winners over the Lisburn school,
The Holywood outfit will be expected to progress to the second round, especially after lifting the McCullough Cup last month.
However, Sullivan captain and Annadale player Fergus Gibson won’t be taking anything for granted against Bangor.
He said: “We don’t know much about them as we haven’t played each other recently but we’ll be treating them with the respect they deserve.”
“Our aim, however, is to do the double and add the Burney to the McCullough which would, for me, be the perfect end to my schoolboy hockey career as this is my last year.”
Former Wallace captain and Burney Cup winner turned established Ireland player, Sean Murray and fellow international Michael Robson took part in the draw which was made at Lisburn Golf Club.
Established 13 years ago, John Minnis Estate Agents, which offers sales and lettings province-wide focusing on North Down, Belfast and the Ards Peninsula, has won recognition at both regional and national levels for its customer service.
The new partnership builds on estate agent John Minnis’s credentials as a long-term supporter of youth sport in the province, after he earlier won an Ulster Schools’ Cup rugby medal with RBAI in the same year that Inst won the Burney Cup on the same St Patrick’s Day in 1995.
Company owner Minnis commented: “I thoroughly enjoyed participating in school sport when I was growing up and consider that many of the values I learned through sport such as hard work, commitment, being a team player and striving to improve have helped me in the development of my own career and business.”
“I, therefore, welcome this opportunity to work in partnership with Ulster Hockey in support of schoolboy hockey and wish all players enjoyment and success as they participate in the 2018 Burney Cup”.
Chris Harte, President of Ulster Hockey and a member of the Ulster Hockey Schools’ Committee said, “We would like to thank John Minnis Estate Agents for supporting the Burney Cup over the next three years.”
“The competition, in which many current Ireland and GB Senior Internationals have participated, always provides scintillating and closely-contested matches, showcasing the talent that exists in schoolboy hockey in Ulster.”
Draw: Preliminary round: (ties to be played on or before Jan 24): Portadown College v BRA; Lurgan College v Ballyclare High
First round: (on or before Feb 3): Sullivan Upper v Bangor Grammar; Antrim Grammar v Friends’; RBAI v Royal & Prior; Methodist College v Lurgan/Ballyclare; Portadown/ BRA v Campbell College; Wallace HIgh v Banbridge Academy; Grosvenor Grammar v Regent House; Kilkeel High v Cookstown High.