Lisnagarvey Hockey Club Captain Jonny Bell has said it would be a ‘great honour’ to lift the Irish Senior Cup this weekend.
Ireland’s top two sides meet in Dublin on Sunday when Garvey go head to head against Monkstown for the cup.
This is Garvey’s first Irish Cup final for ten years, with their last appearance in the final being a 2-1 defeat to Cork Harlequins.
However, the club have won the Irish Cup - one of the oldest tournaments in the world - on 23 occasions, with their last win coming in 2005, with a 3-2 win over Instonians.
And the man who captained that 2005 side, Head Coach Errol Lutton, is hoping to lead the current squad to glory once again.
“It’s probably the biggest game of the season,” Lutton commented ahead of Sunday’s match. “It’s for the first silverware of the season.
“The guys are looking forward to it,” he added.
Captain Jonny Bell commented: “There’s a sense of anticipation and excitement at the club.
“It’s been a while since we’ve played in an Irish Cup final, it will be good to see what we can do.
“It should be a good day for both sets of supporters, but I hope it’s an even better day for Garvey supporters,” he said.
“The Irish Cup holds a special place in the hearts of Garvey supporters and players. From a young age you know what it means for the club.
“It would be a great honour if we are able to bring it back,” the captain stated.
“It will all come down to what we are able to produce on the day, especially against a side like Monkstown.
“Both sides are pretty evenly matched. They won convincingly at our place and we managed to nick a win down there; a win we deserved.
“I’m anticipating a good game,” Bell said, “everybody is excited.
“Most of us have played in big games before, we’ll take it steady, see how we start the game and take it from there.
“I hope we get good support down there. The club have made sure there has been good support and a good atmosphere throughout the Irish Hockey League, and I hope we can replicate that on Sunday and we’ll have good support in good voice.”
Coach Lutton added that his Garvey side are a ‘talented group’, who have been playing well.
“There are no easy games at this level,” the coach commented. “Certainly we’ve been playing very well, and in the games that are tight we’ve squeezed through.
“This is a very talented group,” he stated.
Lutton said that there is little between Garvey and Monkstown, with both taking a win each in their two encounters this season.
“We’ve played them earlier this season,” he said. “They played very well at our place to take the win and we played very well at their place to win.
“Both teams don’t have a lot to separate them and therefore it will be a very tight game.
“Both teams have five, six, seven internationals, there is genuinely very little between the two teams.
“In our previous matches there wasn’t much between us in terms of goal scoring opportunities, but hopefully it is a good game,” he commented.
“I was captain in 2005 when we won it back then, and again in 2006 when we lost to a very good Cork Harlequins side.
“We’ve reached many semi finals and quarter finals since then, but this is our first final for ten years. We have as good a chance as any since we won it in 2005.”
The Garvey coach said his side are playing with ‘confidence’ at the moment.
“We got there through playing some very good hockey. The boys are playing with motivation and confidence and freedom.
“They are quite a young group. Even when our experienced guys have been away on international duty, the young guys have stepped up.
“The likes of Matthew Nelson, Sean Murray, Mark McNellis, Ryan Getty, then there’s James Lorimer and Neal Glassey who are still Under 21’s. James Milliken, our reserve keeper. We have a young squad, it’s a good group that should be together for a long time.”
Lutton said that everybody in the squad is fit and available.
“Everybody is excited and looking forward to Sunday,” he added.
“Ultimately it will be a good day out. We hope to have a good crowd down, the junior teams will be down playing.
“No matter who people are supporting, ourselves or Monkstown, we hope there will be a good crowd and that they enjoy a good game of hockey.”