Banbridge Hockey Club have been handed the honour of hosting the opening round of the Euro Hockey League later this year.
The EHL and the EHF confirmed the move yesterday which will see the competition come to Ireland for the very first time for its 10th edition.
Banbridge will host the series from from October 7-9.
The news comes just a few weeks since the conclusion of the 2015/16 season at an epic final in Barcelona.
In a ground-breaking campaign, over 12 million people took in the EHL from over 150 countries worldwide, marking the EHL out as the world’s best club competition.
The 2016/17 season comees to Ireland where hockey is currently riding the crest of a wave, wit the Irish team qualifying for the Olympic Games for the first time since 1908 while their club sides recently won back a second place in the EHL.
EHL chairman Hans-Erik Tuijt said he was excitied by the decision to award round one to Banbridge.
“Banbridge is an exciting new venue for the EHL, particularly now as we hope the Olympic Games will motivate more and more fans to get out and enjoy hockey,” he said.
“Their club has shown by hosting the play-offs of Ireland’s first full-season national league – the EY Hockey League – that there is a real hunger for the game in the town of Banbridge and we look forward to seeing their fans’ passion once again.”
EHF President Marijke Fleuren added that she is “very confident that Banbridge HC will be excellent hosts”.
“There is no doubt that for Irish hockey fans being able to see many of their new Olympians compete on home soil will be an added bonus to Round 1 this year,” said Fleuren.
“The EHF and EHL are committed to broadening the fan base of the EHL and we firmly believe that this new EHL venue will be a hit with players and fans alike.”
The tournament will be played at Banbridge’s Havelock Park home, 30 minutes to the south of Belfast and an hour and a half north of Dublin.
Banbridge Club president John Bell is looking forward to the challenge of hosting an event of this stature.
He said: “We are obviously delighted to be given the opportunity of hosting the event. It comes at a time, post Olympics, when the focus on hockey will be high.
“As a club we will give it our all and while on a bigger scale than the EYHL finals weekend, we know that the welcome at Havelock Park will be second to none.
“We see it as a superb opportunity to leave a lasting hockey legacy not only in our district but throughout Irish hockey.”
Further details of the draw for the respective groups will be announced in due course.