Brilliant Moffett inspires Bann to School’s title

All-Ireland Schoolboy’s Championships final
Banbridge 4 (Josh Moffett 3, Ciaran Kelly) St Andrew’s 2 (David Watkins 2)

Josh Moffett’s classy hat-trick led Banbridge Academy to the All-Ireland Schoolboy’s hockey championship title in Ballinteer, bringing the Tasmanian shield back to Co Down for the first time since 2006.

It was a built on a first half performance of real quality, attacking at speed from all angles with Philip Doyle arriving like an express-train from the back while Ciaran Kelly and Hugh McShane held sway in midfield.

St Andrew’s did well to keep pace for long periods and almost nicked a late tie but David Watkins was denied his hat-trick on the line and Moffett went straight up the pitch to kill the tie.

The underage international was at the heart of all four Bann goals and he broke the deadlock in the 11th minute. The rangy Doyle sped forward down the right-wing, got to the baseline and while his path was checked, the ball broke to Moffett who, on his knees, reversed through a forest of legs.

With Michael Duggan in the bin, parity was restored inside two minutes from Andrew’s third corner, a breaking ball bouncing into Lee Cole’s path on the right of goal. His flick to the left corner was waist-high but Watkins kept his eye on the ball to volley home.

Banbridge had made hard work of their semi-final against Wesley despite a string of short corners a couple of hours earlier. Problems with the injection were rife and, from their only set-piece of the final, the ball did not make it to the top.

No matter, the play was returned to pusher-out Moffett who controlled and swept a perfect cross for Ciaran Kelly to guide home for 2-1.

And there was two between the teams in the 19th minute as Doyle again rampaged up. His cross drew a brilliant save from Jakim Bernsden but Moffett swooped to knock in the rebound as others stopped, expecting a corner to be awarded.

The Ulster side looked set to control the tie, holding possession around the back, but Andrew’s found a tactic to cause real danger, driving long balls through the centre of the Bann defence.

Jonathon Codd’s pump from left-back created havoc but Fiachra Maher could not find the elevation to beat the sprawling Michael Anderson.

Codd spent time in the bin, too, either side of half-time as Bann started the second half controlling the play.

But they were caught short20 minutes from time, Lee Cole’s ball forward was miscontrolled and Watkins stole in on the right baseline and a light dink slipped through Anderson’s defences and just over the line.

Andrew’s upped the ante in the closing stages, piling forward in volume, seeking the equaliser and leaving the Banbridge’s supporter’s hearts in their mouths. David Cole’s whipped crash-ball was redirected agonisingly wide. Watkins, too, was denied at the death when he pick-pocketed an Academy defender but his shot was smothered around the post.

Moffett, though, eased the tension when he latched onto a loose ball on half-way and, with no one at home, raced toward the circle and calmly rounded the goalkeeper to the right and rolled home for the vital fourth goal.

St Andrews: Jakim Bernsden, Mark Loughrey, Jake Beirne, Fiahcra Maher, David Watkins, David Cole, Conor Stephens, Ravin Nair, Jonathon Codd, Stephen Nolan, Lee Cole
Subs: Ivan Moloney, Oisin O’Halloran, Aaron Rooney, Eric Foy, Cian Booth

Banbridge Academy: Michael Anderson, Matthew Knox, Josh Moffett, Niall Kelly, Ciaran Kelly, Peter Brown, Philip Doyle, Robin Smyrl, Matthew Bell, Michael Duggan, Ben Cosgrove
Subs: Andrew Mooney, Tarak Chouari, Hugh McShane, Owen Magee, Hector de Courcey-Wheeler

Partners of The Hook