Sullivan Upper seek Cup double after beating Wallace in final

The victorious Sullivan team
The victorious Sullivan team

This might just be the best hockey team Sullivan have ever produced.

Coached by Lisnagarvey star Andy Williamson, they secured only their second ever senior title in Wednesday’s McCullough Cup final and now the boss wants to make it a double.

“This is the first time we’ve won the McCullough Cup,” he beamed at a wind-swept Comber Road.

“It’s something that we had set as a target at the start of the year and now we’d love to give (the Ulster double) a go.

“We had a big disappointment going out in the Irish Schools’ group stage but if we could win both Ulster tournaments, it would be brilliant. I think we have the players to do it and the drive to do it.

“It’s up there with the best squad we’ve had and the boys put the hard yards in so there’s no reason why not.”

On Wednesday’s showing, few could argue. While they didn’t make as light work of it as their swift start threatened, this was a victory won by quality, even if it was hard to watch from the sidelines.

“It’s not the best way to do it for the nerves anyway,” laughed 22 year-old Williamson, collecting his first trophy as first team coach.

“Nothing beats a last minute winner I suppose but Wallace played very well. It wasn’t the most comfortable of victories compared to our last few games and there was some super hockey from both sides.

“We knew we could score goals and if we could play our style of pass and move hockey and take our chances, we could get them.

“Their keeper made a few great saves to keep them in it at 2-0.”

It was, however, the Sullivan stopper who made arguably the most important save of all to deny Jacob Hermon with less than two minutes on the clock.

“Max came up big for us,” said Williamson. He covered his circle well and made a big save to set us up at the other end.”

Skipper Matthew Crookshanks was the first Sullivan man ever to get his hands on the historic trophy.

“It was a great victory and the best feeling ever to do it for the first time,” he said.

“To do it with such a great bunch of lads was fantastic. We’ve put in such a lot of hard work since the start of the season and we wanted to get at least one trophy so now we’ve done it.

“It was incredible when we got that last goal. I couldn’t believe it. I looked at the clock and saw there was only 30 seconds left and thought ‘wow, we’re actually going to win.’”

Wallace coach Erroll Lutton said: “Sullivan deserved to win. “We had one chance each at the end, they scored theirs and we didn’t so well done to Sullivan.

“Our goalkeeper James (Ritchie) was outstanding. He kept us in the game and you wondered where the saves were coming from but somebody has to lose and he was unlucky not to be on the winning side.”

For Sullivan, the festivities could begin, although this morning, it’s back to porridge and exams in school.

With quality like hat-trick hero John Matchett and Callum Robson to call on though, who would bet against more Sullivan celebrations come spring and the Burney Cup final?