Banbridge aiming to uphold Ulster pride in Irish Hockey League

Bann's Eugene Magee
Bann's Eugene Magee

Banbridge may be the only team representing Ulster in both Irish Senior competitions after the final round of the Irish Hockey League on Saturday.

Southern teams continue to dominate the Irish Senior Cup and the Irish Hockey League and it’s been three years since Ulster last won the IHL and four years since an Ulster club brought the ISC back north.

So why are Ulster clubs letting their southern counterparts dominate these two trophies that carry a ticket to Euro hockey?

Bann’s captain, and Irish International, Eugene Magee has some thoughts on the matter. “It’s down to the physicality of the game between Ulster clubs and southern teams,” he explained

This was shown by Bann’s opponents tomorrow, when Three Rock Rovers put Lisnagarvey to the sword in the last round, as Garvey’s young players did not seem to be able to cope with power and strength of Rovers who seemed to push then off the ball with ease.

“Teams seem to get away with a lot more in Dublin than they do in Ulster, and internationally you get away with a lot more physicality,” he added.

“I think it is something that clubs have to bring in to their game, if they want to remain strong and competitive. And certainly when I played in Germany, the league is much more physical, even more than it is in the Leinster League, and Germany is one of the best hockey nations in the World.

“But players’ safety is always important, just sometimes we may be just too over cautious in Ulster.”

Instonians also have a slim chance of making the semis from Pool A, but with a much weakened side they need to defeat Pembroke Wanderers in Dublin and that seems a massive ask.

Garvey have to go for goals when they take on C of I in Cork, and then hope that Bann slip-up.

Cookstown, who have reached the IHL semis twice, but have never landed the title, will wrap up this season’s competition with a home tie against UCC.

And Annadale finish their IHL account with a tough trip to Dublin where they play Monkstown, who are going for a hat-trick of IHL titles.

There are premiership games with Belfast Harlequins entertaining Newry, and Kilkeel welcoming Mossley, who notched up their second win of the season last week.

In Senior Two, leaders, South Antrim should secure another three points at Antrim whilst Portadown have a tough trip to Queens.

And in Senior Two, Armagh and Cliftonville will battle it out in what could be a title decider.