Banbridge were comfortable 4-1 winners over EYHL rivals Annadale in the St Stephen’s Day Kirk Cup final at Lisnagarvey, writes John Flack.
Bann led 3-0 at the break and extended their lead near the end before Annadale replied late on.Dale’s most potent threat was expected to come from set-pieces and Ryan Burgess but they didn’t click on the day. In fact, Annadale won the corner count 7-3 but, too often, their routine, allied to some resolute defending, let them down.
Triumphant coach Mark Tumilty was delighted at his team’s performance and the fact the EYHL sides have been readmitted to the competition.
He said: “It’s great to be back in the Kirk Cup and this competition means a lot to us even though there are perhaps bigger games to come in the league and Irish Senior Cup.
“I thought we deserved to win and it helped making a good start to the game with those three goals in the first half.
“Annadale obviously have a good corner routine which has produced a lot of goals this season but we managed to keep them quiet in that respect.
“Our keeper, Luke Roleston played well and it was also good to be able to play a few of the younger guys as well. That’s one trophy in the bag and there are three more to play for, so let’s hope for more in the new year.”
Banbridge broke the deadlock in the 21st minute when Alex Tinney rifled home a set-piece for the opener. Under a minute later, they doubled their lead when Irish international Johnny McKee converted a penalty stroke.
On the half-hour mark, it was 3-0 when Josh Moffett connected with a right-wing cross from Luke Witherow to leave Dale with a mountain to climb after the break.They improved noticeably and after a couple of crosses had caused some concern, Ben Wallace was denied by Roleston after a great run and shot in the 52nd minute.
Peter Caruth then shot narrowly wide from a penalty corner a minute later and the Dale player-coach sent in a tantalizing cross shortly afterwards but there was nobody there to apply the finish.
In one last throw of the dice, Annadale took off their keeper and introduced assistant coach Johnny Caren as a kicking back with six minutes left.
But the move backfired when, in the 66th minute, Sam Farson made it 4-0 when he scored into the unguarded net after touching home a cross from the left.
With a minute remaining, Annadale finally got their reward for their second half endeavours when Caruth smashed home a penalty corner but it was too little and too late.