Two local hockey players have a lot to look forward to this season.
Waringstown’s Matthew Bell and Dollingstown’s Hugh McShane helped Banbridge Hockey Club to what coach mark Tumilty called the ‘highest point’ in their history last weekend.
They made it through round one of Europe’s premier club hockey tournament, successfully ousting Belgian giants Royal Leopold in the process.
Bann beat Paris side Saint Germain HC 2-0 on Saturday with Bell as captain and he then teed up one of schoolboy Kyle Marshall’s two goals in Sunday’s 3-3 draw with Leopold.
Round one of the Euro Hockey League was hosted by Bann, with around 5,000 fan pouring through the gates.
“The show the club put on was unbelievable,” said Bell. “Roger Martin, James Bingham, Glen Marshall and my dad (John Bell) all worked so hard, and that’s only naming four of the people involved.
“We couldn’t have asked for any more from the club.
“All we wanted to do was to put on a bit of a show on the pitch for them and thankfully we got the result.”
The success puts Bann into the last 16 of the competition, alongside Hillsborough side Lisnagarvey.
“It wasn’t easy and it took some grit but we got it done,” said Bell.
“The lads were class all weekend. Everybody did their jobs. We always said that the EHL was a bonus for us. We focused on the EYHL but we’ve turned that bonus into an opportunity now and we’ll go again in April.
“Home advantage was huge. The supporters were unbelievable. If it wasn’t for them, it would have been a different story.”