HOCKEY: Semi-final thrills set up Burney Cup final with a difference
Sullivan Upper and Wallace High School will meet in the a Burney Cup final with a difference next week.
Not only is it the first time these teams have gone head to head in the season finale, but the decider will also be played at Playball, Stormont, just after the quarter-finals of the star-studded World League Two tournament.
Ireland will be going up Scotland, Italy, Wales amongst others in the major tournament and now the Burney Cup final will be in the thick of the action.
Both finalists edged through hard-fought semi-finals at Comber Road on Wednesday afternoon.
Sullivan saw off defending champions Banbridge Academy in a tetchy 1-0. Then Michael Kerr netted a hat-trick and still ended up on the losing side as Cookstown push Wallace all the way in a 4-4 draw, only to lose out 5-4 on penalties.
The first semi-final was a repeat of last season’s decider and Sullivan earned their revenge. Fergus Gibson netted the only goal of the game in the second period, slamming home from a penalty corner.
He had seen a first half effort well saved by Bann keeper Luke Roleston, who was the Man of the Match when the Academy won 4-1 on flicks in last season’s final.
He couldn’t stop Gibson’s 43rd minute effort and was then rounded by Mitchell, who just couldn’t convert a second.
That left the Academy with a chance and they piled on the pressure with three late penalty corners. One was charged down, one was fired wide and then keeper Thomas McCord made a match-winning save to send the Holywood school into their fifth final.
They will face Wallace for the first time in the decider after the Lisburn school slipped through an absolute thriller.
Andrew O’Hare opened the scoring with an early penalty corner but Turkington equalised for Cookstown HS after a flowing move.
Michael Kerr gave the Tyrone side a 2-1 lead with a strong shot from a corner.
William Carey made it 2-2 eight minutes before half-time but that was long enough for Kerr to slam home again to give his side the lead at the break.
Whatever coach Errol Lutton said to his Wallace side worked a treat as they netted two goals in as many minutes to reverse the scoreline.
First it was O’Hare from another corner then Ben Nelson netted from open play for 4-3.
But, unsurprisingly for such a topsy-turvy game, there was time for another goal and Kerr nabbed his hat-trick goal with eight minutes left, roofing a drag from another penalty corner.
The final will take place at 7pm next Thursday at Stormont to cap off a day of World League Two quarter-finals.